Prynne achieves enviable compression of language by a heightened use of linguistic and cultural references that are strategically employed to treat themes of modern life. As his is a poetry of resistance to the new world order, it challenges the hegemony of the hardened shells of political and social structures that attempt to dominate human sentience.
Concluding his essay on Wallace Stevens in Poetry and the Age, Randall Jarrell commented: “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.” If that is so, Seamus Heaney was a lightning rod.
Flatrock is a very impressive first book by any standard. Its reeling portraits of lower class life hearken to the rough speech, coarse sentiments and unapologetic sexuality of Emile Zola’s Germinal or Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road by employing neo-romantic realism and social comment to create an exciting visceral experience for the reader. Ms. Lock’s voice, by turns perceptive, witty and tart, and yet still capable of great tenderness, is remarkably consistent throughout, . . .
Like Bernard Malamud’s Roy Hobbs (“The Natural”) who can wield the physics of baseball with consummate skill, in fact making it look second nature, Newton, as poet, effortlessly repeats this triumph of language in poem after poem. Yet, Newton’s game is of a more serious kind, leading readers into the labyrinth of human emotions and then letting them see the Minotaur.
Science has also shown that our sense of being “in love” is the product of the hormonal activities of phenylethylamine, norepinephrine and dopamine. In The Casual Perfect, Ms. Greenlaw has found a way to tap these hormones so that receptive readers experience a sense of love’s intoxication, its joy and pain, as if “jacked-in” to its Matrix. Indeed, this may be the greatest book of poetry about being in love since Elizabeth Barrett’s Sonnets from the Portuguese, for like that great work Ms. Greenlaw has made the trajectory of a personal love story the heartbeat of this volume.