Following Spring Comes to Chicago--winner of the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Prize--Campbell McGrath's newest collection goes on the road to chart a poetics of place and everyday experience. Set in diverse and finely observed landscapes from Brazil to Manitoba, Las Vegas to McGrath's home in Miami Beach, the poems in Road Atlas range thematically from a cultural critique of Jimmy Buffett to a discussion of cartoon epistemology with a skeptical child to an imaginary journey from Campbell, Florida, to McGrath, Alaska.
With its careful mix of image and narrative, as well as its sculptural prose variations, Road Atlas seeks to stretch the form of the contemporary poem to encompass travel writing, flash fiction, and lyric meditations upon the loneliness of the road, the joys of fatherhood, and the nature of poetry itself.
Road Atlas is the most personal and emotionally accessible book yet from one of the most distinctive and highly lauded American poets of his generation.
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Campbell McGrath is the author of nine previous books, eight of them available from Ecco Press. He has received numerous prestigious awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been published in the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and Ploughshares, among other prominent publications, and his poetry is represented in dozens of anthologies. He teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University, and lives with his family in Miami Beach.From Kirkus Reviews:
This fourth collection by the much-awarded (and this-round MacArthur grant recipient) Florida International University creative-writing professor continues the sense (from Spring Comes to Chicago and the other books) that McGrath fancies himself working a genre all his own: prose riffs that sometimes tell little stories but are not bound by the conventions of narrative. Except for some extra-long-line poems in the C.K.Williams vein, McGrath spares us the pretense of poetic lines; despite his imagistic language, his paragraphs seldom sound especially lyrical; nor do they flow on particularly poetic rhythms. Mostly, they seem like notebook jottings for a larger projecta memoir or a travelogue. Prose Poem, which is the closest thing here to an ars poetica, relies on an extended metaphor of formal fields and the varieties of farming types. And McGraths subsequent prose passages do little to clear matters up. Many of his pieces concern travel: Plums, a typical example, recalls a hill in Nebraska and ends with the Whitmanesque echo: I was there. I bore witness to that moment. McGrath considers moments like this far more significant than his readers will, who might simply be envious of his itinerary: he remembers a superb meal in Tunis, a festival in Brazil, a swim off a Gulf Coast island, a one-night stand in Amsterdam, his brothers wedding in Las Vegas, and a family trip to Naples. For all his hipster, on the road posing, McGrath goes soft when it comes to his sons, whom he quotes for cutesy effect. And his political commentary is best exhibited in the pretentiously titled Capitalist Poem #42, which lists all that his family buys at Costco, before declaring it the Grand Canyon of commodities. McGrath wants us to share his enthusiasm for the freedom and speed of the open road, but these sluggish prose pieces and poems barely reach 55. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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