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Publishers Weekly, 2002-06-17 Throughout this heterogeneous second collection, Bernard's speaker works hard to read significance into personal encounters and recollections, ranging from vague, internal musings to memories of the East Village in the 1980s to imagined encounters with dead writers, celebrities and animals, among others. In the opening poems, Bernard's speakers circumnavigate a generally somber internal landscape, often using the natural world as a point of reference. Sea, sky, sun, wind, light and snow make frequent appearances, and seem to occasion some of the book's most vague and tortuous musings: "How often is too often, what if this heat tore through me constant as the sky I tear apart...." Quite often, the poems' speakers seem frustrated or even bored by their own interiority ("...oh it's just the same old dream of melting"). Similar problems haunt the East Village sequence, in which an evocative, though essentially familiar cast of characters the "squatter," the "lover of a famous poet" play out the routines and pretensions of countercultural life, but rarely offer the reader either a surprising insight or a startlingly good story. In the book's final two sections, Bernard seems to reach for an imaginative or fantastical escape from the biographical and its attendant ennui; the result is that speakers encounter Jimmy Stewart or the dancing bear from Captain Kangaroo. Occasionally though, the freewheeling imagination seems poised to succeed, with flashes of music and humor that could well suggest strategies for future work: "Seek error. Forgive soot. Let the lion find his own way about the house, and provide him a swinging door. Feed the lion." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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