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372 Western American Literature Shadowlight. ByJoanne McCarthy. (Seattle: Broken Moon Press,1989. 34 pages, $8.00.) Joanne McCarthy, who teaches at Tacoma Community College, offers an attractively printed little collection described at the end as a “community” publishing effort. Madeline DeFrees, in her foreword, argues that the poems “communicate profound truths about the human condition” and that they delve into the subconscious. I tend to be skeptical of such pronouncements. “At the Inn,” the opening poem of the first section (Shadows), tells of a woman haunted by the memory ofher nephew’saccidental death byhanging. It ends: behind the light in your eyes, always that shadow moved in you, a moth at the screen, the river over black stones I think this is not an excursion into the subconscious, but a lyric-narrative carried out with delicacy and sensitivity. The low-key, the understated is McCarthy’s forte. Although DeFrees praises her eye, it is perhaps her ear that most recom­ mends McCarthy, as in these lines from “The Dreamer,” which refer to her dying mother: Faint music, the murmur of mermaids, echo the heart’s deep chamber in the great green cave of the sea and she does not hear our breathing in the narrow room where we wait. The sparrows in the next poem “catch daylight/in the flutter of their throats.” Here as elsewhere in this collection, her first, McCarthy strikes me as perceptive, but not especially “profound,” not that profundity necessarily has much to do with poetry. The second section (Out of Place) brings us to Japan, the source of the couple of haiku in the collection, a form which never ceases to bore me. The four or five “minimalist”poems seem to me all the less satisfying in such a small collection. We encounter all too little expansiveness, even in the poems of the last section (Where We Are),which concern the Pacific Northwest. These terse encounters are indeed carefully crafted and effective in a small, gemlike way. We do find “good poems”here, but they are limited in their appeal. RON MCFARLAND University ofIdaho ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
p. 372
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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