cover image Selected Poems, 1970–2005

Selected Poems, 1970–2005

Floyd Skloot, . . Tupelo, $17.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-932195-59-0

Skloot's reputation for quiet warmth and mellifluous rhymes—on display in poems about his elderly parents, his growing (now grown) daughter and the green slopes and rivers of his rural Oregon—are peculiarly hard-won clarities: during the late 1980s, in the same years that his verse first gained some fame, a rare virus attacked his brain. Ever since, Skloot has suffered from—and described, in poems and a memoir, The Shadow of Memory —cognitive and mnemonic impairments that interfere with his daily life. Skloot's demotic language and his focus on pathos will remind some readers of William Stafford, others of former laureate Ted Kooser, as when, over bowls of soup, “steam... rose like the past made whole.” As this cull from Skloot's five earlier volumes moves from the first (1994's Music Appreciation ) to 2005's Approximately Paradise , the proportion of such lyric moments slowly recedes. Instead, the poems develop an increasing focus on the end of life: a startling diptych shows Skloot's ailing mother, while other pages depict writers, artists and composers, each one glimpsed near his death: Freud in London, Maurice Ravel with aphasia and the French composer Couperin “deep in the brief coda of his years.” (Apr.)