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88 Western American Literature For Dwyer, this is a preoccupation with what he calls that “uncountable, unaccountable light,” or what he later refers to as “the odd, liquid clarity of the light in this dry country.” But Wordsworth, too, wanted to give expression to “something . . . / Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.” Like Words­ worth, both of these poets know all too well what Wordsworth meant by his highly charged term for poetic belatedness, “inland.” For both of these poets, “inland” is meant both in its original usage in Wordsworth and also in the sense of being landlocked—exiled to the Midwest. I suppose if anything can capture a sense of these poets’ epigonal belatedness, or their striving to overcome the self-imposed oblivion of writing poetry in the Midwest, Dwyer’s oxymoronic “inland sea” captures it best: there are imaginative heights to be found here, but at a tremendous personal cost. Finally, there is much to recommend these books, their emotional and conceptual range if nothing else. But they are flawed, however, paradoxically for the same reasons that make them so compelling. Dwyer strives too much to let us know the vast range of his reading, that he has absorbed the British Romantics and Victorians, and that he knows, for instance, how to play Mallarmé’s language games. The allusions fly too fast and too furious (but why wouldn’t they? Fie is “inland” ) . West is at her weakest, strangely enough, when writing women’s poetry, something that is obviously close to her, because, as the titles suggest, these poems are so blatantly tendentious and/or angry (e.g., “Saf-T-Coil,” or “To the Sonofabitch Who Refused Me Dinner Because I Refused My Body” ) . For me, those poems are strongest which capture her ambivalent attitude toward her own midwestern experience. There is a fasci­ nating tension in these poems between being both proud of her midwestern roots and at the same time acutely striving to overcome endemic provincialism. They are the strongest, finally, because they are the most memorable. Yet this tension eventually resolves itself into a troping of her feeling of her poetic belatedness. One might imagine these books as statements of self-imposed exile. I can think of no profounder reason to recommend them. SAM UMLAND Kearney State College Out of this World. By Joseph Somoza. (El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 1990. 96 pages, $8.95.) Out of this World is written by an extraordinary poet as an homage, a memoir, of the Spain he left as a child, and then becomes a celebration of his new life in this country with his wife Jill and their three children, the world of these poems. The book opens with some lines from an Asturian folk song, “the loves that you had / at the seashore, / the loves that you had / you can never forget,” forming a motif for the deceptively simple poems about a man’s lifetime of loves. It’s his world we enter, seeing, hearing as if through an open Reviews 89 window, carried out from our own world by his ironic, humorous voice. From Spain, a memory: In the early mornings it’s like this: an old man in his undershirt filling a washbasin with water from last night’s rain while around him the still moist leaves that will never again be arranged in this precise pattern are singing a song that he remembers having heard once as a child in another land. Or these, his Ravenous Friendships My friends are all in a small, hot room. With their backs pushing the walls they dream of ways to be less like me. Ah my friends, past the door (if I would allow one) the snow-covered field stretches out to the river beautiful girls in skirts are crossing the river-bridge continuously, seeking talk on a personal level over a cup of coffee, bare legs under the table. Forgive me. Or this little excerpt from the last poem, “Heaven” : The angels, probably, are smooth light women who love you just the way you are. Buy the book. You’ll like his world. KEITH WILSON Las Cruces, New Mexico ...


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