cover image Fables and Distances

Fables and Distances

John Haines. Graywolf Press, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-227-1

Many of the selections in this collection by award-winning poet Haines (The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer) are informed critiques of work produced by other poets, such as Robinson Jeffers, Carolyn Forche and John Ashbery, that will be of the greatest interest to serious readers of poetry. Haines also discusses the value of poetry as a vehicle for social commentary. Other evocative pieces of more general interest reflect on the author's love of the Alaskan wilderness, where he currently lives. Haines describes the pleasure of berry picking with his wife, and an early experience watching a moose die after being shot. (Haines has not hunted in 25 years.) He mourns the continued encroachment on the natural world by developers. An article in which he reviews books written about Alaska argues that author John McPhee (Coming Into the Country) delivers entertaining rather than insightful prose because he is a visitor to, rather than an inhabitant of, the place he is writing about. (Feb.)