cover image Own Face

Own Face

Clark Coolidge / Author Sun and Moon Press $10.95 (96p) ISBN 9

Non-syntactic since his earliest, mid-1960s writing, Coolidge ( The Book of During ) in this new volume embraces what seems a more traditional narrative stance. But appearances are deceptive. ``I look in that one kind of dwindled,'' one poem begins. Delighting in the odd alignment of words, laughing at his own jokes, Coolidge leads readers astray. A few more traditional poems, such as his lyrical description of a caveman's world, prove these diversions are intentional. Once safely past a few initial jolts, readers will find that these pieces begin to make sense cumulatively. Surprisingly, if one takes away the linguistic constructs, a simplistic, even didactic, philosophy surfaces. Coolidge strings maxims together with the wildest imagery imaginable, giving new life to tired phrases; ``every turning stone I love'' recalls the dictum to leave no stone unturned. Many pieces reveal a desire for the primitive--man at one with the elements. But Coolidge counters these impossible longings by superimposing man-made objects on the natural order: a gun on the nighttime countryside or a keyhole on a snow-filled landscape. Eclectic yet at times memorable, these poems deserve a patient reader. (Mar.)