Drowned Landsby Paul Kane
Advancing from his first volume, The Farther Shore, which explored instances of discovery and rites of passage, Paul Kane's new collection of poems, Drowned Lands,describes a world flooded with memory and apprehension. This is poetry drawn from the everyday, even as it seeks the high ground of inspiration and eloquence. The result is a book of diverse forms and various subjects: there are meditative lyrics, as in "Time Was"; lively encounters, "An Old Flame in Savonarola's Cell"; poignant narratives, "In the Penal Colony"; satiric verses, "After Martial"; and visionary utterances, "The Repentant Magdalen." At times, a historical imagination is at work, taking us back to Coptic Egypt, Renaissance Italy, or colonial America. Kane's poems range widely, from European cities to the Australian bush, from metropolitan New York to the deserts of the American Southwest. But whatever their locale, these poems distill experience into crucial moments of knowing, when we come alive to the facts of our existence as revealed in the alterations between solitude and love, grief and joy, incapacity and insight.
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Paul Kane is one of America's great, underrated poets, and his second volume of poetry, Drowned Lands, exemplifies his talent and vision. With this collection of some 47 poems, Paul Kane shows us what a good poet can accomplish. Through his lens, we the beauty of the Hudson Valley, the islands of the South Pacific, the gothic haunts of Florence, and the effulgent glow of Australian vistas, like that of the Murray River. Poems like "On the Murray" and "Mere Islands" have a more epic, expansive scope, while other poems like "War Crimes," and "Just After the Holidays" are more disarmingly direct and intimate in tone. He's often been compared to Robert Frost and Emerson, though Paul Kane's verse and vision is entirely his own. Throughout many of the poems, a sense of mystery remains. Kane is careful to make us aware that there is a great deal we cannot know about the world we're seeing and sensing. We can only experience it. It's been said that poetry is a record of the life around us and within us, and Drowned Lands exemplifies this beautifully.