Alternately detailed and abstract, calmly attentive and angry about bad news, this set of short lyrics from Roberson (Atmospheric Conditions) describes urban verticality (""buildings/ modulate the blocks// upwards/ the city a sky of floors"") and zeroes in on the New York metropolitan area in particular. His depictions include the detritus of so-called urban renewal, ""From the project slabs leveled/ to the poor pride-kept and neat/ stands of/ old houses mowed down."" They include, too, the sounds of black America, from ""the street-talk birdcall of sucked teeth"" to the disorienting jazz of Thelonious Monk. Lines like ""Adventure somehow decides to bypass all the already,"" announces a modernist aesthetic which finds the basis for poetry anywhere. But however abstract he gets, Roberson never loses his sense of a personal voice, of a man talking (to himself or others) about the space in which we might try to live.
Reviewed on: 01/02/2006 Release date: 01/01/2006 Genre: Fiction