cover image MY MOJAVE


Donald Revell, . . Alice James, $13.95 (68pp) ISBN 978-1-882295-40-1

Revell gained prominence with the demanding, austere and short-lined poems of There Are Three and the stringent elegies of last year's Arcady, both with Wesleyan. This eighth book's range now encompasses both open-ended sequences and songlike, stanzaic lyric, Christianity and ancient Greece, political anger and paternal affection. Revell views domestic life (as a father and husband), the local flora of the American West, literary forebears (Traherne, Dorothy Wordsworth) and recent history (elections and September 11) through the dual lenses of landscape poetry and religious reverence. "I'm not needed/ Like wings in a storm,/ And God is the storm," one powerful lyric concludes; a provocative ode asks whether "the whole business of appearance would destroy politics/ Giving absolute sovereignty to the love of God." Revell's deliberate drift and concise description distance his new work somewhat from the more difficult poets with whom he has lately been classed: this book instead recalls, and rivals, Gary Snyder's Buddhist humility and Charles Wright's luminous verse diaries. If at times his transcendence seems too easily won, more often Revell's plain declaratives coax readers to share his speaker's journeys: "I want to go to the invisible and see it." (Apr.)

Forecast: Revell's shift to the University of Maine–based Alice James may mean a drop in visibility on the shelf—or, depending on review coverage, simply more attention for the press. While there has been an extreme paucity of poetry reviewing in national newspapers and magazines recently, Revell is one the ripest candidates around for a long, summative piece.