cover image Here: Poetry

Here: Poetry

C. S. Giscombe. Dalkey Archive Press, $9.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-058-4

Here is a powerful, understated meditation on place, ancestry and time. Establishing themes in the first poem (ironically titled after an old railway slogan, ``Look Ahead-Look South''), Giscombe looks back to Birmingham, Ala., from a vantage point in the North, recalling journeys there at 12 and 28 for the funerals of his grandparents. A diffuse, open technique avoids the hazard Giscombe identifies as ``aimless description'' and is able to take in a great deal of material, mimicking the processes of memory. His concern with African American experience is all the more effective because he so well evokes his individual consciousness. The second, longest poem, ``Blue Hole, Flood Waters, Little Miami River,'' begins less well. There are vivid bits, like the perception of a ``big eyed blank-face dash bolted to the firewall'' of the poet's father's car, but passages centered on a childhood hometown seem merely anecdotal. Giscombe recovers his powers when he turns to two forebears-the late Ohio poet James Wright and Robert Service Duncanson, a black landscape painter of the mid-19th-century, seeking in them aesthetic values and an artistic heritage. (Nov.)