American Gothic: Poems by Jonathan Holden

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The epigraph to the first portion of this volume is the definition of Gothicism given by Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary , the first characteristic of which is ``Rudeness; inelegance or an instance of it.'' Holden ( Against Paradise ) is clearly interested in that aspect of American culture, and the subjects of his poems include Grant Wood's portrait, landscape viewed from the highway and the band recital at an elementary school that presented ``something so stubborn / that no matter how grossly / they farted on it, / was going to play itself anyway / through them.'' The sensibility here is rather coarse, always inelegant. Technically the poems fall in long columns of plain, free verse. They show the influence of Richard Hugo, who is referred to affectionately in the text, but are not graced by his wit. In several instances the narrative turns to the subject of money and greed. ``The Parable of the Snowman'' compares the reinvestment of capital to making a snowball: itals in text/pk ``Push hard, and you can have the things you want. '' Likewise, ``The Crash'' is a parody of the life of a stockbroker. Unfortunately, Holden is unable to penetrate beyond the stereotype. (June)
Library Journal
In his sixth collection of poetry, critic Holden ( The Fate of American Poetry , LJ 1/92) vividly depicts Midwest America: farms, barns, fields, golf, corn, Halloween pranks, television, band practice. The collection is divided into two parts--in the first half, we see the poet as speaker, his childhood, his dreams; in the second half, he takes on the personae of people and objects around him: the oak tree, the doctor, the stock broker. For the most part, these are deceptively simple poems that suddenly explode--a barn bursts into flames, a father and son's playing weather predictions turns into a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, the same naivete that gives the finest poems their power also places the poet at risk, permitting the less accomplished poems to become nothing more than trivialities. To make matters worse, the book closes with some of its weakest works. For larger collections.--Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820314082
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Series: Contemporary Poetry Ser.
  • Pages: 80

Table of Contents

I American Gothic
American Gothic 3
Farm, Seen from Highway 24 5
Push Mower 6
Golf 8
Firefight 10
Landscape with Horses 16
Summer School 17
First Day of School 19
Grade School Band Recital 21
September: Nederland, Colorado 23
Mission 25
Thanksgiving Day 28
Late November 30
The Parable of the Snowman 32
II The Crash
Falling 37
Atlantis 39
Chinook 41
The Colors of Passion 43
The Colors of Desire 45
The Weatherman 46
Cancer 51
Cassandra 54
Cowboy 57
Bank 59
The Crash 61
Face Up 65
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