The long-awaited follow-up to The Key to the Citya finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986Anne Winters's The Displaced of Capital emanates a quiet and authoritative passion for social justice, embodying the voice of a subtle, sophisticated conscience.
The "displaced" in the book's title refers to the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised who populate New York, the city that serves at once as gritty backdrop, city of dreams, and urban nightmare. Winters also addresses the culturally, ethnically, and emotionally excluded and, in these politically sensitive poems, writes without sentimentality of a cityscape of tenements and immigrants, offering her poetry as a testament to the lives of have-nots. In the central poem, Winters witnesses the relationship between two women of disparate social classes whose friendship represents the poet's political convictions. With poems both powerful and musical, The Displaced of Capital marks Anne Winters's triumphant return and assures her standing as an essential New York poet.
Compassionate, careful, and detailed almost to a fault, this admirable second volume from Winters (her first in 18 years) follows the workers, the students, and the architectures of New York City, from Lower Broadway's "army of signs disowning the workplace and longing for night" to "Slip-pilings on the Brooklyn littoral." Much of the collection comprises two long works: the first, "An Immigrant Woman," follows the poet's friendship with Pilar, a pious, hardworking Guatemalan mother who becomes a Manhattan hotel worker and suffers a shocking loss. In "A Sonnet Map of Manhattan" Winters (The Key to the City) delivers what the title promises, as each page sketches a block or neighborhood: on 168th Street, "seas/ of snowy cots sleep tenement families" in a crowded shelter. As in many a 19th-century novel, Winters' accumulation of realistic sights and sounds both helps us feel for her struggling characters, and indicts the economic system under which they live. (A final, more abstract long poem, "The First Verse," explicates the start of the Hebrew Bible.) Winters' blend of ethical with formal concerns should recommend her to fans of Marilyn Hacker or of Robert Pinsky (who blurbs the book); her documentary methods, and her knowledge of New York City's hidden spaces, might give her rigorous poetry further appeal. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.