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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 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
p. 86
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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