A History of the River: Poems

A History of the River: Poems

by James Applewhite
     
 

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'James Applewhite's A History of the River ought to win him a devoted and discerning audience because it is the best work of his distinguished career. Applewhite has the gift of releasing meaning from mystery, a gift he shares most profoundly with photographers such as Walker Evans and Doris Ulmann. These are wonderful poems in every respect, a treat to be cherished!'…  See more details below

Overview

'James Applewhite's A History of the River ought to win him a devoted and discerning audience because it is the best work of his distinguished career. Applewhite has the gift of releasing meaning from mystery, a gift he shares most profoundly with photographers such as Walker Evans and Doris Ulmann. These are wonderful poems in every respect, a treat to be cherished!' ---Dave Smith

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Looking back upon forebears who lived among the forests and rivers of his native North Carolina, Applewhite ( Lessons in Soaring ) chronicles Southern culture during simpler, less sophisticated times. A kind of poetic oral history, these dense poems detail a world of tobacco farms, log cabins and horse-driven carriages, a world slowly being encroached upon by modern conveniences like automobiles and tractors. In one poem a man stands in the shadow of the ``unnatural light'' of ``the television's phosphorescent glow'' while the poet contemplates whether technology has made life any better for his country kinfolk. But Applewhite frequently buries the emotional potential of his themes in excessively nuanced descriptions, as in a piece about the pride of hand labor: ``Broom sedge colonized, its sunset-tan extending / in feathery ranks homogenous as wheat. Evergreen seedlings / then bulked up gradually. . . .'' Overall, however, Applewhite uses his impressive knowledge of the culture about which he writes--and his capacious memory--to skillfully evoke a lost time and place, one in which life was full of hardship, but clearly more comprehensible. (Feb.)
Library Journal
``So history twists my psyche,'' says Applewhite, a poet and professor of English at Duke University. But in his latest collection, the poet's personal history and the collective history of his part of the world--eastern North Carolina--do not twist but instead enrich. The poems continually exhibit a hanging back, a feeling of wanting to retreat to the simpler, purer world of Applewhite's childhood, of his father's childhood, of his grandfather's childhood. This is very readable poetry, written with refreshing simplicity and sensuality and flowing as smoothly as a river: ``Poison ivy/ leaves printed their frieze/ of threes across my eyes under/ a sun in motion.'' Avoiding sentimentality, Applewhite offers poems of death, distance, and change and yet of sameness. He insists on the sights, sounds, and smells that have molded the people of eastern North Carolina but are now lost. Reading this collection is like settling down with an old album of strikingly clear, magnificently articulated photographs whose images leap into our consciousness and remain there. Highly recommended.-- Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807118160
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Publication date:
02/01/1993
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.22(d)

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