Stephen Dunn is justly celebrated as one of the strongest poets of his generation. Now in this rich gathering, he selects from his eight collections and includes sixteen new poems marked by the haunting "Snowmass Cycle." The heralded clarity and intelligence of Dunn's poems are in full evidence here, as is his ability to charm and evoke pathos. As ...
Stephen Dunn is justly celebrated as one of the strongest poets of his generation. Now in this rich gathering, he selects from his eight collections and includes sixteen new poems marked by the haunting "Snowmass Cycle." The heralded clarity and intelligence of Dunn's poems are in full evidence here, as is his ability to charm and evoke pathos. As the poet's earlier focus moves from - but never entirely forsakes - the mysteries of dailiness and the complications of domestic life, he more openly embraces the philosophical and social concerns that have always been at the heart of his work. As ever, wit happily resides with seriousness, affirmation coexists with hardship. "I want to find the cool, precise language / for how passion gives rise to passion, " Dunn says in one of the new poems. For two decades, such insistence has led him to a wise lucidity that places him among our consequential poets.
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Publishers Weekly, 1994-03-28 ``I love abstractions, I love / to give them a nouny place to live, / a firm seat in the balcony / of ideas, while music plays.'' Dunn ( Landscape at the End of the Century ) doesn't lapse from the human in his affection for ideas or in his playful working with them; his poetry can read like a conversation held within the generous confines of an unusually abundant self. He and his ideas are good company for us. Part of the persuasion is accomplished with images: in ``Nova Scotia,'' jellyfish ``washed up / like small blue parachutes''; in ``The Snow Leopard'' a girl is ``half rockette'' and ``half American flag.'' But so much depends upon the billowing up and the resting of Dunn's thoughts, on their sheer movement. That's what forms and opens the poems, makes reading them seem like hobnobbing with someone who is both more observant and more precise than you could have been. We may hardly notice the skill of the movement, how fluent the monologue, but it marks us again and again: ``Last night Joan Sutherland was nuancing / the stratosphere on my fine-tuned tape deck, / and there was my dog Buster with a flea rash, / his head in his privates. Even for Buster /this was something like happiness.'' The collection includes work from eight past books and 16 new poems. (Apr.)
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