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reviews 133 REVIEWS Carolyne Wright. Stealing the Children. Boise, Idaho: Ahsahta Press, 1978. 41 pages. $3.00 (paper ). _________________ Premonitionsofan Uneasy Guest. Abilene, Texas: Hardin-Simmons University Press, 1983. 67 pages. $5.95 (paper). Robert Lowell and Richard Hugo have left small traces on Carolyne Wright's early work. Lowell and Hugo had what might be called a descriptive imagination. They looked out on the world, and it was the world that gavetheir poems back to them. The result was the standard "realist" poem ofthe Romantic and post-Romantic periods. Most of the poems in Stealing the Children proceed in this manner, though the first poem shows that Wright can be as happy writing the "idealist" poem, as well, one that begins with an idea rather than fact or landscape. Secretary to the thoughts ofothers, I grow, each night, to be the tenured scholar ofall galaxies. The shift from secretary to scholar may seem sudden, even self-congratulatory, but thankfully it is the secretary and not the Blakean autodidact who is most evident in the book. This is true, notjust because Wright is fond oflocalized verbal effects reminiscent ofLowell and Hugo, but also because she seems willing to enter a poem without her mind made up. Willing, that is, to record or take dictation. That willingness, however, can lead to other problems. "Sleeping in the Open: Coos Bay, Oregon ," for instance, begins in a purely descriptive way. Following the long waist ofthe coast, driving through towns whose names claw at the hasps ofthe throat: Siuslaw, Clatsop, Kilchis River. You drive, while I attend to vital matters. These matters include an assortment ofthings visible out the window: campfire smoke, pilings, low tide, crabs, etc. The poem is still searching for itself, but when the two people finally pitch camp, something vague is declared or realized. We pitch your slack tent in salt-stiffened wind, and sink back to ourselves, coiled shells closing, gray whales sounding an unheard-ofdeep. We sleep, and dream that night oftrawlers . . . You sür, shift a little. I lie quiet, ears turned like an animal's to dark. Dawn, a thought's face coming over us ... . Aside from asking us to believe in a shared dream, the poem leaves us in a state of incipient awareness, "a thought's face coming over us." What thought, one can hardly say. I think it is fair to ask this poem, what happened? What happened, that is, besides those things reported? Ifthe "saltstiffened wind" and "the green hands reaching" and the "shot volleying" are all meant to be arrows, to whatdo they point? Are we meantto be watching two people "sink back" to themselves? Isthe slighttransformation recorded here one from everyday getting and spending tothe actoflying quietly "ears turned like an animal's to dark"? If the answers to these questions are in any way 134 the minnesota review affirmative, it seems reasonable to ask what it means to "sink back/to ourselves." What do the words, "sink," "back," even "ourselves," imply? What is implied by "dark"? Obviously, if the poem were to help us answerthese questions—any more that it has—it would change from an open, serendipitous, listening mode to a mode much more planned and prefabricated. Even so, I think a poem must declare itselfmore, even ifit is "found." The fiction ofthe accidental or serendipitous poem is, finally, that finding is making orthat accident becomes deliberate. The result should be a poem, not a partly realized poem. I go on at such length because I have the same sort of experience with many of the poems in this book. "Lines Left from Freedom" is another drama ofan uncertain sort. The poem is almost entirely a description ofcountryside and ofa drive through it. One last haul and we're over—no sweat in this air conditioning, driver down-shifting, a rocking-chair codger's lifetime from the cracking axletrees pioneers strained and prayed over. Most apparent in the poem is the speaker's bright, almost tough, tone of voice. She refers to herself and her companion as "patient heroines." Nothing else suggests, as far as I can see, the content ofthe poem. But, what sort ofheroism is this...


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