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380 WesternAmerican Literature only to return again for McNamee’s slightly caustic humor and slightly sinister good will.” The Hamill introduction is followed by McNamee’s poem, “Sarasvati in the New World.”The first page introduces at least a dozen words I am not familiar with, of which I list only those that do not require keys not on my typewriter: chacmools, Haida, Cashinahua, Tukano, Kayapo, Cakchiquel, Bororo, Wampanoag, Vizcaina, Casasola and desaparecidos. All wonderful, suggestive, musical words—but what do they mean? (By a stroke of luck, I had been to “Guanajuato” and “Tillamook,” also mentioned.) And this is the beginning, before McNamee gets to the classics-inspired section or the translations. Don’t get the wrong idea. Other than the baffling referents, these poems of “intellect and imagination,” of social criticism, opinion and irony, prophecy and mock prophecy are likeable, concise, amusing and often epigrammatic, such as, “To a Critic:” Only the dead enjoy your praise— that’s too expensive for my taste. But to get to the bottom of McNamee, you may need plenty of time and ambition to look up what you don’t know. As I wrote “after”McNamee: If Inconstant History intrigues an ignoramus like me, What fun this book must be for the cognoscenti. DAVE ENGEL Rudolph, Wisconsin Let’sHearItFor Them. By Charles Noble. (Saskatoon: Thisdedown Press,1990. 64 pages, $9.95.) Noble’s title invites us both to hear and to applaud. We hear together, applaud, here together: our hearing is at once theirs and ours. So the title announces a doubling text, forwhat Noble hears in language is often more than double: he hears puns everywhere. He roots his hearing in place—he heres it. In hearing the ear in earth he finds the landscape of language and creates an (other) version of pastoral. Sound echoes generate the ongoing long poem. The first section, “Coffee,”explores grounds for divorce, for belief, conclu­ sions, doubt. Noble’spersona becomes the farmer-philosopher who sees “every­ thing twice.”In “Opera”he reads the world through a filter ofmusic; in “Props” he finds a “tale in the crop” as he does his swathing. “Interview” explores how “text warps biography into unwoven seem,”and asserts that “we are a hovering craft”and therefore protected from the “big ship”of the U.S.A. whose “paddles Reviews 381 are under this land, like shovels.”Shaky ground indeed. The national politics in “Grounds”make another turn. Let’s hear (you and I) what is troubling Alberta farmers because the Toronto newspapers and bankers swamped by a “big bang in finance”do not hear, or hold. “Grounds”gives the book a symmetry which a “Postscriptum”on asymmetry turns over (twice). Noble’s is a poetry of space in which “the farmsteads drift apart / in the winter like icebergs.”At times he breaks words into the surrounding space; the text moves on the vertical, horizontal, oblique. This move pushes the literal into the letteral, a “my/th/ought-ical doub t”about the referentiality ofwords being the motive. Since space is the very stuff of the poem, I wish the publisher had chosen a different font ( “I”and “1”tend to blur) and had designed the pages to allow for easier movement through the book. But, despite some heavy patches, Let’s HearIt deserves a wide reading and careful hearing. BIRKSPROXTON RedDeer College Blue Autumn. By Christopher Buckley (Providence: Copper Beech Press, 1990. 71 pages, $9.95.) Christopher Buckley’s twenty-four contemplative poems are bound to­ gether by device and spirit. The devices are obvious: four sections of six poems each, all introspective essays, most in graceful 8-12 syllable lines that participate in English tradition without hint of the metronome. Buckley quietly controls the pace of thought with stanza patterns, ambiguous enjambments, and caesu­ ras that cut against the grain. Across this texture, the poems evolve like clouds. “Clouds in Summer” floats in three-stanza clusters ofthree-line stanzas across the page; “On the Eiffel Tower”is tall and tapering. There are long lines, short lines, and quatrains, but mostly discursive verse paragraphs reminiscent ofWordsworth, this collection’s remote father. Something is always moving here, though its character...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 380-381
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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