Though uneven, this collection, which launches a new poetry series, contains luminous writing. Drought-stricken cotton fields, dried-up rivers and week-long blizzards form the backdrop to McDonald's ( After the Noise of Saigon ) meditations on solitude, love, war and aging. Beauty and loss subsist in an inhospitable world where children's health is ``precarious as a telephone / about to ring, even the dogs / swelling with tumors.'' Yet to act in this milieu is to understand it, as on a fishing trip where ``we reel in cutthroats and browns / from swift water as if nothing / but trout could save us.'' McDonald's evocation of nature and farming is impressively simple, but suggests mystery and depth, like the maple witching rod whose ``peeled crotch'' is ``bone-white and hollow in the heartwood, / tiny tubes that sough in the wind like ghosts.'' Unfortunately, the poet sometimes reneges on the power of his images, ending several poems in overstatement. And images, scenes and themes repeat without significant variation. (Apr.)
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Meet the Author
Walter McDonald is Paul W. Horn Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Texas Tech University. His awards include three Western Heritage Awards, one for Rafting the Brazos; twice winner of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship Grant; Juniper Prize; George Elliston Poetry Prize; three-time winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Prize; 1992 Texas Professor of the Year awarded by CASE in Washington, D.C.