In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

86 WesternAmerican Literature My Name is William TeU. By William Stafford. (Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence Press, 1992. 78 pages, $17.00.) William Stafford has won the 1992 Western States Book Award for this work, a gathering of poems from six limited-edition chapbooks. Readers will find themselves in Stafford’s familiar atmosphere, where elemental terms like “wind,”“world,”“time,”and even “old car”reverberate with emotion and a kind of intuitive metaphysics. This poet feels his way through our reliable if often mysteriousworld and makes his reports. The book hasfour divisions: “Doing My Job” deals primarily with nature, “Dreams of Childhood” and “Our Town Owned a Story”involve us in a past that Stafford’s steady readers are likely to feel is now their own, and “Crossing the Campus”becomes a little more topical. Stafford proudly calls himselfa regionalist in the preface to this collection, “Sniffing the Region”—as a coyote sniffs—and readers of western poetry will find his geography familiar. Familiar but not necessarily comfortable: the sharp­ ness of tone is unusually intense. This time William Stafford isWilliam Tell and ready to fire arrows with careful aim at targets such as nuclear installations (“At Fort Worden: Calling Names”), moral sleaziness (“Crossing the Campus with a New Generation”) and experiments on animals (“Experiments”). The poems show an awareness of the discordant, tragic melodies that play over the ground bass of a life that sustains us. There is the mad mother who hangs her children and there are parents who can be remembered with tenderness. In “Remember­ ing Mountain Men”Stafford evokes the beaver drowned in the chains, then says of the mountain men, “When I dream at night, they save a place for m e,/no matter how small, somewhere by the fire.”The poem quietly implies the cost of a romantic way of life that the speaker still admires. This is counting costs, not cost-accounting. The style of these poems is austere, sometimes prosaic. The object is fidelity to the perception: we could say of Stafford’s work that it embodies several senses of the indispensable word “true”:being true, holding true, aiming true. BERT ALMON University ofAlberta Moan Crossing Bridge. By Tess Gallagher. (St. Paul: Graywolf Press, 1992. 99 pages, $17.00.) When Tess Gallagher first splashed onto the scene in 1976 with Instructions to the Double, she established herself as a provocative sensibility of titillating surfaces, capable of charting dramatic moments with an underlay of complex emotional nuance. “Coming Home,”a brilliant depiction of a desperate daugh­ ter and worn-weary mother locked in their habits of need, ends reaching with a question: “What did you mean/by it, this tenderness/that is awhip, a longing?” It is at this pitch of heartache that Moon Crossing Bridge arrives. These ...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 86
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.