cover image Land’s End: New and Selected Poems

Land’s End: New and Selected Poems

Gail Mazur. Univ. of Chicago, $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-226-72073-9

In this comprehensive volume, Mazur (Forbidden City) demonstrates a remarkable mastery of poetic technique as she depicts human relationships in all of their ambiguities. These poems highlight both the arc of a career and the seamless unity within Mazur’s distinguished body of work. Like many poems in this book, “The Conversation” calls the reader’s attention to the tenuous and unstable nature of life narratives: “It had come so easily but then she’d lose/ the delicate thread of her narrative/ as if a small wooden dory had slipped its mooring/ floating away from the warm splintering dock/ away from whoever and whatever knew.” In “The Family Crucible,” the speaker recalls: “For seven years, my sister has refused to speak to me./ It’s biblical—/ but are these the lean years, or the fat?” Here, as elsewhere, the speaker boldly and sensitively proclaims her own lack of understanding. It is this vulnerability, equipped and complemented with extensive erudition, that makes Mazur’s poems as poignant as they are accomplished in their craft. (Aug.)