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350 WesternAmerican Literature ity is necessity not crime.” Or for those of us fortunate enough to live where valleys stretch “into infinity . . . and the sky . . . surrounds the whole with deli­ cate light,”Coleman’sbook might be a reminder ofthe splendorwe live in every day. Calling on her male muse, Coleman, while able to transport us to the western landscape, dips dangerously into the romanticism of personal rebirth in the telling of her conversion story ofEasterner become Westerner, complete with understanding of “magnificence” and “self.” Throughout this metamor­ phosis, as the element of light plays on the western expanse, giving color to a “yellow cat,” “blue, lavender, red, ocher . . . living things,” “sky, . . . magical blue,” “yellow grass, red earth, the green of cottonwood trees,” Coleman struggles some and then saysthat she is “at home in the saddle as one born to it.” Perhaps Coleman’s color becomes too much color, until her West is mud­ died like the canvas of a novice and too enthusiastic painter, while her effort to change into a part of the West becomes little more than a desperate act of “simply playing cowboy.” In the end she says she “would not trade places with anyone else on earth,” and I’m happy for her in that place as I close the book, but wonder at any one person consciously concerned with “truly belong[ing] ” in the yet seemingly boundless and indeed magnificent West. I, as did William Kittredge in Owning It All, wonder how or for what reason, in truth, any one person did, can or would feign or dare to gather it, pursue it, demand it, contain it, control it, take it, become it, copy it, learn it, own it to the point of belonging, becoming a part of it, the West. SANDRA GAIL TEICHMANN Florida State University Tom By Light: Selected Poems. ByJoanne de Longchamps. (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1993. 176 pages, $24.95/$12.95.) This selection of poems and collages by an accomplished but still under­ recognized Nevada poet does credit to the University ofNevada Press. From her earliest poems, published in 1944, to poems composed almost forty years later, presented here for the first time, Joanne de Longchamps writes with passion and control about love, time, illness and death. The book opens with concise, informative biographical and critical intro­ ductions, followed by selections from the seven published volumes and a post­ humous manuscript. De Longchamps anticipates the themes of much contem­ porary women’s poetry: the bleak, domestic domain of the 1957 poem about a housewife, emotionally trapped and starving; the “cracked bells” of an older woman’s desire for a younger man who does not “think of bed”; the “thin gills and lipless mouths”of her pain-wracked body, “moving to stay alive.”In memo­ rable, aphoristic lines, de Longchamps offers wisdom and advice: love is “a way Reviews 351 of traveling/beyond a given place”; “Now is a ripe orange. Seize, love it”; “Masks are needed, vizors,/dominoes ofdaring”;survival is “knowingwhat to lose—and letting go.” Both passionate and intellectual throughout her career, in her later work de Longchamps speaks in a more personal voice, attentive to the outside world as well as to the inner one. She looks closer to home for her subjects, to the Nevada “creek shallows” and the “fog-dripping” Pacific-coast mornings, and employs modest, homely metaphors to compose the stunning poems of her last years: “No single image,” she writes of her son, “keeps or captures/you in my rooms of love,/my house of shifting mirrors.”But the poems of these years also display another, more playful side: in a wry poem describing a plover that picks the teeth of crocodiles, she notes that “dentists are necessary/evils, even in jungle/rivers.” Tom by Light is a compelling collection of poems. It is also a striking collection of paper collages created by de Longchamps. A suggestion for the University of Nevada Press, sure to bring both de Longchamps and the Press more recognition: a deluxe, full-color edition of de Longchamps’ animal col­ lages and animal poems. NANCYPROTHRO ARBUTHNOT U. S. Naval Academy One-Eyed Cowboy Wild. ByJohn D. Nesbitt. (New...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 350-351
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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