cover image Razzle Dazzle: New and Selected Poems 2002–2022

Razzle Dazzle: New and Selected Poems 2002–2022

Major Jackson. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-324-06490-9

This welcome gathering of new and selected poems honors Jackson’s generous poetic imagination. Beginning with a selection of new poems, the collection primarily highlights Jackson’s five previous books (The Absurd Man being the most recent). The original pieces demonstrate the poet’s mastery of perspective, moving easily from personal reflection to direct address: “My font of feelings is a waterfall and I live/ as if no toupees exist on earth or masks that silence/ the oppressed.... So, look at me standing on the porch laughing/ at the creek threatening to become a raging river.” Poems from Jackson’s first book, Leaving Saturn, presage the observational skills that give his poems such depth: “I am going to stand beside the man who works all day combing/ his thatch of gray hair corkscrewed in every direction./ I am going to pay attention to our lives/ unraveling between the forks of his fine-tooth comb.” Jackson’s inviting, often playful tone makes readers feel at home in his capacious poetic world, as in the later selection, “Major and I”: “...he lives year-round/ in the bootcamp of self-redemption;/ for this other Major needs lots/ of sky. You are that sky.” Full of insight and warmth, these poems shine. (Sept.)