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Reviews 373 parlors in Des Moines.”Yes, Ferlinghetti, always the poet ofthe topical now, still sees clearly the 1990s, at one point condemning Attorney General Reno for the 1993 destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. As he approaches seventy-six, it is appropriate for Ferlinghetti to issue a retrospective volume selecting representative poems from the past forty years. As with all selected poetry volumes, though, the representation is too general. Yes, we read back through familiar selections from Pictures ofthe Gone World, A Coney Island of the Mind, and Startingfrom San Francisco and again it becomes clear why these poems changed a generation—the power of the irregular lines, the not-so-delicate wit (always at the expense ofthe middle-class establishment), the topical references to popular culture and politics (so utterly unpoetic we thought—withjoy). But naturally a volume like this omits many poems that need to be pre­ served such as “Dada Would Have Liked a Day Like This”and “Christ Climbed Down.”And surely a poem of such historical importance as “Tentative Descrip­ tion ofa Dinner to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower”should be retained. Its Swiftian satire, while dated, shook a generation from its 1950s political apathy. For many of us in the Baby Boom generation Lawrence Ferlinghetti—with some help from the other Beat poets—redefined poetry, took poetry out of the classroom and gave it back to the people. These Are My Rivers continues to give poetry back to the people if in the 1990s we can accept it. PAUL VARNER Oklahoma State University— Oklahoma City The ProperEdge ofthe Sky: The High Plateau Country of Utah. By Edward A. Geary. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992. 288 pages, $14.95.) In his introduction, Edward A. Geary writes that this book is not a guide­ book, travel narrative, natural history, social history, literary history, or personal essay, but that it incorporates elements of all of these genres. This is true. I would call it a place essay. It is about all the aspects of a locality that make it a place: he rambles over Utah’s high plateau terrain exploring geography, cli­ mate, human and animal habitats, place names, conflicts, joys, fiascos, and triumphs. This is an essay about being so deeply a part of a place that the horizon anywhere else looks allwrong, and you long to return to where the sky’s edge is properly—familiarly—shaped. The book is not only Geary’s own experience of Utah’s high plateaus. He also has read and absorbed the works ofother regional writers: Wallace Stegner, Maurine Whipple, Virginia Sorensen, the early explorers, along with stories collected from Sanpete County residents and stored in the Brigham Young University Folklore Archives. He weaves the words of these other regionalists 374 WesternAmerican Literature into the fabric of the story so that there is no seam, just as past, present, and future meld together in a person’s experience of a place. Geary particularly favors us with excerpts from the writings ofClarence Dutton, who accompanied John Wesley Powell in his exploration of the area in 1875. The richness ofthis book isfar too great to express in these few lines. In one section, Geary voices the contemporary Westerner’s ambivalence about water. He decries the practices that deplete our groundwater, but expresses awe at the beautiful green transformation caused by irrigation water. He ponders the differences between inhabiting a landscape and visiting it; the influence of romanticism on our views of how land should be managed; and the difficult times various ethnic groups have had learning to live together. Excellent notes and an index help the reader who wants to make a study of the region. Geary describes the plateaus and their inhabitants lovingly but without illusions. For him, these high landscapes are real—he grew up there, and he has studied them. They are populated by rocks, plants, animals, and humans, and they are his community, with all itsjoys and sorrows. They are notjust picture postcards, or highway view points, or fishing spots, or picturesque mining towns. When I first started reading the book, I was extremely disappointed in the quality of...


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pp. 373-374
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