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American Gothic: Poems by Jonathan Holden

American Gothic: Poems by Jonathan Holden

by Jonathan Holden

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

Product Details

University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
Contemporary Poetry Ser.

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