- The Color of Dust by Michael Anania, and: Mountains in the Wind: An Anthology of Rocky Mountain Poets ed. by L. W. Michaelson and G. B. Morgan, and: Poetry North ed. by Richard Lyons (review)
- Western American Literature
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1971
- pp. 155-156
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Reviews 155 Born of no one— It makes itself. I recommend this book of poems by Freya Manfred, and I look for ward to the next one. M a x W e s t b r o o k , The University of Texas, Austin The Color of Dust. By Michael Anania. (Chicago: The Swallow Press, Inc., 1970. 70 pages, $5.; paperback $2.50.) Mountains in the Wind: An Anthology of Rocky Mountain Poets. Edited by L. W. Michaelson and G. B. Morgan. (Greeley: Pierian Press, 1970. 32 pages, $2.) Poetry North. Edited by Richard Lyons. (Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1970. 52 pages, $2.75.) The Color of Dust, Michael Anania’s first collection, evokes reality as fleeting idea or dream. Poetic apprehension rises out of sensation-association or personal recollection. Anania’s muted lines float on the page like disem bodied memory, like tacit exempla of those life-as-dream notions of Calderon, Poe, and the solipsistic Mark Twain. Selectivity and indirection rather than total recall shape Anania’s incremental fragments, which tend to frustrate interpretation. Precise images hover in a refined private texture. Sometimes the poet’s surrealistic effects are stunning, as in his longest poem, “The Fall” : “It is the inevitable order that destroys, the necessity of falling, river to river shore to shore, instinctively outstretched hands to the waiting ground.” But too often psychology overwhelms aesthetics, especially when Anania plants his cloudy ego in the soil of fact: “Do not allow the pre-Socratic to enter your mind except when thinking of clear water trout streams in north central Wyoming.” Mountains in the Wind is middling. The subtitle of this lithographed paperback is informative but pretentious. Most of the poets are young and live in Colorado or New Mexico. The competent poems of editors L. W. Michaelson and G. B. Morgan are matched by those of R. P. Dickey and Chris Richards. Included in the collection are efforts by Dorys C. Grover, Charles E. Bomgren, Albert Neely, J. R.LeMaster, Paul Anderson, R. D. Lakin, Doug Flaherty, Marcia Muth Miller, Jeffrey Arnold, Edward Kearns, 156 Western American Literature K. Wayne McKusick, Lyman R. Pittman, Leon Feldman, Josephine Higgin botham, Bernice Zamora, Virginia Brady Young, Victoria McCabe, and Karl Edd. Most of the poems embody Western themes and most suffer from tonal improprieties—from the monotone of textbook history to the inflections of frontier bombast. Some are marred by sentimentality, rawness, or didacticism. Inevitably, one or two are incoherent. Delicacy and point mark one or two others. But in the main, a knowledge of poetics is generally subaltern to a rather woolly if not wild poetic urge. Poetry North contains forty-one poems— some surprisingly good— by five poets of North Dakota: Thomas McGrath, Richard Lyons, John R. Milton, Antony Oldknow, and L. Woiwode. Native or adopted North Dakotans, all have published books of poetry. As poet-editor Richard Lyons points out in his preface, the selections in this nicely printed paperback “reflect in part a response to the upper-plains environment.” McGrath’s preoccupation with violent death— “While the rich oratory and the lying famous corrupt Senators mine our lives for another war”— is less convincing than Milton’s dimly seeing: “one fieldmouse braving the blue air brief-clawed and lifted by its loving hawk.” Lyons’ poetry is intelligent and his voice is distinctive, even when it sounds Frostian: “Our old mistakes Pile up in drifts behind us. What’s that you say? T o shovel snow in such cold weather makes Me numb to music and your words of May. This winter wind blows all my dreams away.” In the work of Oldknow, a birthright Englishman, the accents of poetry are hard to detect: “I was stalling into town With my camera, And suddenly it seemed as if They had given Fargo a vote of no confidence— They were tearing down huge blocks of apartments And creating parking lots and more Parking lots.” Woiwode’s elegant verbal fireworks illuminate and entertain by way of ironic little twists and surprise endings: "What is more yellow than the bumblebee? Is it your hair, is it the flower, or is it me?” M a r t...