cover image Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems

Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems

Eamon Grennan, Graywolf, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55597-564-7

Grennan, whose last new & selected volume, Relations, appeared in 1998, has spent a career moving between Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he teaches at Vassar College, and the west country of his native Ireland, facing the Atlantic. Both locales have afforded ample material for this career-summing volume, which begins with Troubles-infused work from the 1980s that brings war into the home: "Here/ is the light glinting on top-boots, on/ the barrel of an M16 that grins.... And here/ is a small room where robust winter sunlight/ rummages much of the day." Grennan finds people's unfoldings in accretive observations of the natural world, but he's usually closely rather than expansively meditative: his imagery—famously striking, often erotic, and sometimes crossing over into violence—makes his short poems read like "one stanchless wound of sound." A pervading restlessness makes this book a pleasure to pick up in fits and starts, particularly in the later erotic poems, finding here the "neat/ green and tea-brown trapezoids/ of grass and bog," there the "[d]azzle-amber of the shirt you wore." One gets the sense of a writer who bridles at limitation yet is acutely aware of its inevitability, who wants to reveal "everything tucked in like a heart in its beating chest of bone/ so the whole body thrums with it." (Sept.)