The Last Nostalgia

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Joe Bolton studied universal connections—the tension between the transitory beauty of the physical world and a yearning for the eternal. He turned his eye to the world, to the cultures and the people around him, and saw reflections of himself. In this collection, he works in both free verse and traditional forms, rendering scenes of exquisite detail that pry into the hearts of his characters and reveal the contradictions that bind father to son, lover to lover, and person to person. From the broken hills and drowsy river valleys around Paducah, Kentucky, to Houston diners and Gulf Coast shrimp boats, to the tropical cityscape of Miami, Bolton creates vivid scenes in which his characters confront the loneliness and the "little music" of their lives. With a richly musical voice and an ear for the cadences of everyday speech, Bolton gives his readers not the trappings of love and grief, but the very things themselves, rendered in lines that reverberate with the authority of sincerity and truth.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"In Atlanta once, on Peachtree Street,/ I met a woman and took her in my arms,/ Lifting her body to see the blond fire/ Of her hair flare against buildings, sky." When Bolton killed himself at the age of 28 in 1990, he was already recognized as one of the vital and compelling voices of his generation. Born in western Kentucky, he spent time in Texas, Florida, and Arizona, and it is the streets, faces, and voices of these locales that haunt his poems. They are, as one might expect, often dark, bleak, and lonely. "Page," dated only days before his suicide, wrestles with discomfort. "Reliance upon language was its undoing.../ But someday it will be all that is left of me./ Death bothers its margins like gulls along some shore." There is more to Bolton, though, than somber meditation: "That field I floated Shelly Solare's panties into./ Summer of 1979, their frail lace hung/ In moonlight forever above the dark rows of corn." There were epiphanies, moments that lifted his eyes from the dark to the heavens, or nearly so. What might have been.... Recommended.--Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
...these poems are astonishing in their delicate, rueful agonies—boyish, romantic poems with a long, bruised perspective. He wrote the poems Raymond Carver's characters would write if they wrote poetry.

The New Criterion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557285584
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Bolton was born in Cadiz, Kentucky, in 1961 and received an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. He taught at both the University of Arizona and the University of Florida at Gainesville. His work appeared in numerous magazines, and he published two collections of poetry, Breckinridge County Suite (The Cummington Press, 1987) and Days of Summer Gone (Galileo Press, 1990). Mr. Bolton took his own life in March 1990 at the age of twenty-eight.
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Table of Contents

Breckinridge County Suite: to a Young Kentucky Woman 1
The Distance 23
Party 25
American Variations 28
Your Sex 31
The Name of Desire 32
A Hymn to the Body 33
The Story 36
Black Water 37
Autumn Fugue 39
Plain Talk 41
The Seasons: A Quartet 42
Speaking of the South: 1961 45
In Search of the Other World 46
Ode to a Relative I Never Met 48
In Atlanta Once 49
Loca Sancta 50
Fathers and Sons 51
After Rain 53
Three Scenes from the Provinces of Blood 54
A Wreath of Stars: Symsonia, Kentucky, 1914 56
Study 58
Bored Cop Leaning against Abstract Sculpture on Plaza below Skyscraper 59
The Blue World 60
Photograph: Being Sad 62
Two Anonymous Spanish Drawings 63
Contemplating a Landscape in Spring 65
Two Songs of Solitude and Lament 67
Weightlifter Poems 69
Lament on New Year's Day 72
The Changes 73
Days of Summer Gone 76
One World 77
Prelude: Late Twentieth-Century Piece 87
Tall Palms 88
Flamingos 89
Miami 90
Diptych 91
Tropical Watercolor: Sarasota 93
Tropical Lament 94
Tropical Deco 95
Florida Twilight, 1905 96
Daisy Miller at the Colosseum 97
Aphrodite Holding a Seashell 98
Fin de Siecle 99
Sherwood Anderson, 1912 100
Elegy for Roland Barthes 102
Little Testament 104
The Light at Newport Beach 106
Laguna Beach Breakdown 107
Sardis Reservoir, Mississippi 108
In Pieces 109
In Memory of the Boys of Dexter, Kentucky 110
Meditation at Kentucky Dam 111
The Mississippi at Barfield, Arkansas 112
The Parthenon at Nashville 113
Aubade 114
The Beginning of Summer 116
Hurricane 117
August Elegy 119
Wild Horses 120
Elegy at Summer's End 121
The Circumstances 125
Death in Orange County 126
Ballroom Dancing in the Barrio 128
Metropolitan Twilight 129
South Boulevard 132
Near 133
Soon 134
Dawn 135
The Dead Gods 136
The New Gods 137
Woodshedding: Kentucky, 1980 138
Lines for Hank Williams 139
Stanzas on the Anniversary of Hart Crane's Death 140
West Kentucky Quintet 142
Insurance Men at Breakfast: Lexington, Kentucky, 1969 147
American Tragedy 148
Watching Bergman Films with My Father 149
Alcohol 150
The Policy 151
Style 153
One of the Forty-Eight 154
Summer 156
Tropical Inland Motel 157
Tropical Heat 158
To a Woman Passing By 159
The Woman with the Dog 160
The Artist's Model 162
The Years 163
Adult Situations 164
In Spring 167
Once in Autumn 170
Another Rainy Night 171
Summer and Smoke 172
Ode to the Backs of a Woman's Knees 173
Haiku 175
Before the Squall Broke Over 176
Bad Sonnets 178
Seascape: Destin, Florida 180
Cleaved Spheres 181
Not This Life 182
Rack! 184
A Couple of Suicide Cases 186
Young Hispanic Man Looking at a Sculpture 188
The Light We Dance Through 189
Departure 190
A Sort of Praise 192
Summer's Lament 193
Childhood 194
Twilight 195
The Lights at Southmayd Park 196
Tropical Courtyard 198
Desert Deluge 199
Page 200
Notes and Dedications 201
About the Text 205
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