Lush reflections on ordinary lives, displaying “formal talents and [Jackson’s] capacity for expanding the lyric potential of narrative” (Rain Taxi).
In his second collection, National Book Critics Circle Award-finalist Jackson (Leaving Saturn, 2002) pays tribute to timeless and timely monuments of American culture and history. Set mostly in an urban landscape, the poems range over a variety of addresses: one envisions neighborhood basketball as a metaphor for life ("The body on defense,/ Playing up close, ghoulish,/ Lacking grace, afraid/ He'd go face-to-face"); others recall the trials and travails of adolescence or pay homage to writers like Shirley Jackson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. In one poem, a grandfather struggles to maintain his integrity in a changing world: "he has watched the neighborhood,-/ postwar marble steps, a scrubbed frontier/ of Pontiacs lining the curb, fade to a hood"; in another, a fourth-grade teacher unable to remember her students' names like "Tarik, Shaniqua, [and] Amari... nicknamed the entire class/ after French painters." The long poem "Letter to Brooks," attempts to explain the contemporary scene to the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who died in 2000. This book works to forge a large and spacious America, one capable of housing imagination. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.