Library JournalThe poetic achievement of Lea, former New England Review editor, is difficult to judge. Lea has explored several styles over the past 15 years, and the arrangement of this selection, which begins with the most recent poems, turns to the earliest poems and advances again to poems of the mid-1990s, confounds the search for poetic development. Hunter, woodsman, spokesman for the unlucky, violent, and vile, Lea favors the concrete images of hardscrabble country life, guns, gray snow, and weeds. His practice is wary of self-conscious beauty or lyricism, and his inclination to forgive and even celebrate difficult people or intolerable situations has gradually become a more explicit Christianity, as in "Peaceable Kingdom" or "Friendship." These very qualities, which tend to make his longer poems diffuse or tendentiously uplifting, give some of the shorter works a restrained elegance: "Now,/ despite the persistence of heat and quarrel...such shinings on water/ are fact. Or sublime." For larger poetry collections.Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
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