cover image Disfortune: Poems

Disfortune: Poems

Joe Wenderoth. Wesleyan University Press, $26 (84pp) ISBN 978-0-8195-2222-1

This volume introduces a poet and some impressive poems in which he uses tangible imagery to depict the elusiveness of experience. ``Detailed History of the Western World'' reads, in its entirety: ``where the river gets swift/ my grandfather stops rowing/ turns round/ and with one oar/ sweeps a row-boat full of cats/ into water so black/ you could say/ it was almost anything.'' Two poems pay direct homage to Wallace Stevens, and another pays moving tribute to William Carlos Williams. Like Stevens, Wenderoth has a passion for philosophical ideas; at the same time he follows Williams's dictum: no ideas but in things. The result is poetry that is intellectually charged but whose final fidelity is to the senses. Despite the constant hum of thinking, these tightly compressed poems exhibit an acute awareness of the transience of any given thought. (Aug.)