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April Is Poetry Month, Part IV

David Starkey Reviews 30 Books of Poems


B. H. Fairchild, The Blue Buick: For readers who like their poems thick with narrative, The Blue Buick will not disappoint. These poems might be mini-memoirs or flash fictions, if not for the care Fairchild lavishes on each long, thoughtful line. The work can be slow-going at times, but it rewards the concentration it demands.

Sean Thomas Dougherty, All You Ask for Is Longing: Sean Thomas Doughtery’s New and Selected Poems are chockablock with men and women down on their luck, and he embraces them all, detailing their miseries and the small joys that make life almost bearable. “You come to me wearing the rain,” Doughtery writes in “Invocation,” “swaying like a broken swing.”

Erin Belieu, Slant Six: Just about anything can find its way into Erin Belieu’s lively, eclectic poems: “green shag carpet” and Mormon cemeteries, Nietzsche and Costco, the “bullet-shaped candies” of Easter and plenty of zingers aimed at her adopted home of Florida: “We build a church for / anyone who owns a pair of knees.”

Jim Moore, Underground: Jim Moore’s sharply observed and often humble poems resemble those of his hero, the great Chinese poet Du Fu: “It aches, this life. When I quit / trying to say it is otherwise, I feel relieved.” The more recent work is the best, which is unusual among living American poets.

Maggie Glover, How I Went Red: The millennials are at it again. The poems in this weirdly wonderful collection are challenging and complex yet strikingly blunt. Maggie Glover has a gift for deceptively colloquial lines and wry titles like “On Finally Blaming Myself a Little Finally” and “A 350-Pound Man Receives Liposuction on Channel 43.”

Mark Doty, Deep Lane: Readers who thought Mark Doty’s poetry tended toward the mannered and overly refined will be pleasantly surprised by his new collection. From the opening poem’s description of “digging, // harrowing, rooting deep” to the concluding poem’s praise of a cherry tree’s “heave and contorted thrust,” this is earthy stuff, indeed.



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