cover image West of Yesterday, East of Summer: New and Selected Poems, 1973-1993

West of Yesterday, East of Summer: New and Selected Poems, 1973-1993

Paul Monette. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (103pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11379-7

For some poets, a single event transforms their art and their lives. That event for National Book Award winner Monette (Becoming a Man) was the death of his lover, Roger Horwitz, from AIDS in 1986. Although this book includes a selection of Monette's early, mannerly, accomplished work, it really gets going with the poems from Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog, written ``for those who are mad with loss.'' In a torrential, unpunctuated style, Monette's poetry captures the experience of living with a loved one who has AIDS: the anxiety when ``I'd go/ around the house with a rag of ammonia/ wiping wiping crazed as a housewife on Let's/ Make a Deal the deal being PLEASE DON'T MAKE/ HIM SICK AGAIN''; fury with a seemingly hostile government bureaucracy; and the leitmotif of truncated love and ``too much grief.'' Monette's newest poems are unabashedly satirical, as in the Swiftean protest of ``The Supreme Pork'' against the decision in the Bowers v. Hardwick case to uphold Georgia's sodomy laws. Moving in their anger and their mourning, the new poems testify to Monette's position: ``AIDS is the great cleave in the world, and nothing will ever be the same again. I'm glad I was able to take my stand with the suffering and the banished.'' (Sept.)