9.20.2010

Stephen Dunn
A Circus of Needs
Carnegie Mellon, 1978

I was pleasantly surprised, cracking this open on the way to mailing it out. What this book has going for it that I don't find as clearly in many contemporary lyric narrative collections of its ilk is that the poems in this easily convert: i.e., "The Man Who Never Loses His Balance" isn't a hypothetical aerialist, and isn't only Dunn. It is both, and not as mawkishly so as I had begun to remember, reading more current poems like this.

While other poems compare perhaps less favorable with those of Diane Di Prima (A Capitalist Love Letter to her Revolutionary Love Letters) or to Robert Haas' FIELD GUIDE POEMS....

A message from the time the third person could be used rather than the "I", and have all the benefits of that distance, none of the limits of the "I" but a ghost of it, an illusion/conjuring. Why is the third person so illigitimate now?

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