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376 WesternAmerican Literature TexasPoets in Concert:A Quartet. By R.S. Gwynn,Jan Epton Seale, Naomi Shihab Nye, and William Virgil Davis. (Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 1990. 128 pages, $9.95.) A string quartet assembles on stage, individuals who tune by cacophony but play in harmony; so begins a first reading of Texas Poets in Concert: A Quartet, a compilation from a 1988 creative writing conference at the University of North Texas. All four Southwest poets, who now reside in Texas, show less the influ­ ence of place (regionalism) than ofworld (universalism). R.S. Gwynn shapes his work with highly traditional forms and rhyme schemes, yet wittily and ironically speaks of contemporary subject matter. “A singles bar!. . . . It’s only/The mating ritual of Rolodexes.” In eleven poems, Gwynn moves from allusive academic to insightful intuitivist, from “Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins”to three Vietnam vets sent home in “Body Bags.” Jan Epton Seale, who cues her poems with “Believing Is Seeing,” shows a demonstrable influence of the Southwest landscape. “The land suffers its his­ tory out/in its people.”She sings imaginative old world “Songs of Mesa Verde” and new world songs “In Praise of Woman Chief,” always proposing “we go forward to go back.” Naomi Shihab Nye’s section, “Twenty Other Worlds,” travels both outer and inner landscapes to characterize the effects ofpeople on people. “Through the Kitchen Window, Chiapas”typifies Nye’sstance: “... we stare/... amazed by how close we can be/to what never sees us.”Asvoyeur and activist, Nye’s private experiences move in tandem with public life, as seen in “Olive Jar”; when a crossing guard questions where she travels in the Israeli West Bank, she replies “To a village of olives and almonds. To see my people.” The final writer, William Virgil Davis, presents “Winter Light”—short, spare, interior pieces that separate the world into light and dark. Emulating Wallace Stevens, Davis writes with few props or characters: “The light on the apple is a small window/reflecting the room . . . nothing without notice.” Advertise this book as “Four universes for the price of one,” in which disparate voices expose and explore contemporary life, seeking how we can live and come together. DEBORAH CLIFFORD GESSAMAN Logan, Utah Wordsfor My Daughter. ByJohn Balaban. (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon, 1991. 71 pages, $10.00.) John Balaban’s third collection, this one a National Poetry Series selection of W. S. Merwin, looks back to his alternative service in Vietnam with the ...


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