Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Review of "Ascension Days" by Tony Hoagland

Recommended by Tony Hoagland

Ascension Days,
poems by David Blair (Del Sol Press) ( link to review)

The first pleasure in David Blair's book Ascension Days -- which I've been enjoying for the last few months -- is data: big chunks and streaks of it, imparting a kind of marbled quality, like steak, to the poems. Then the mouthfuls of diction, and the poet's love of sampling the vernacular, idiomatic speech that suffuses our American days and nights.

Here’s the very charming beginning of "Graduation Poem":

It’s a ruckus in the mezzanine: Shontel, Shontel,
Barry, Barry, Dougie, Wanda, Brenda, Dorie.
The sweat stands out above their thick glasses
and rolls down furrowed brows. The kids leaving
parry wildly and gesticulate. They take the harps
back down from the trees and use them.
The light at graduation is somewhat dressier
than at normal times. This light is from black marble
details at the Syria Mosque and the beaux glass
fixtures in the auditorium and the stairwells.
The dark sphinxes out front have golden wigs
and temperate paws. If you stand in the middle
of graduations, you feel the rivers spread their silt.
The way some people stop and watch weddings
leave the lean downtown churches in white cars,
I climb balconies in expectation.

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