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The Empty Chair by Robert W. Crawford, recipient of the 2011 Richard Wilbur Award, is a remarkably powerful collection of exquisitely-crafted poetry. As David Middleton has pointed out, "The poems in this book range widely over many themes including the mysteries of family relationships and of nature; philosophical questions relating to the laws of chemistry and physics; the likenesses of things revealed by metaphor as compared to things in and of themselves; and moral questions extending from the sophistic language of assisted suicide websites to the fall of great civilizations." But most of these memorable poems are set within the realities of the New England landscape, and they affect the heart, mind, and soul with a poignancy and poetic maturity that reminds us of the genius of Robert Frost.
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ROBERT W. CRAWFORD lives in Chester, New Hampshire, on the shore of Whetstone Pond. A graduate of Colby College (B.A.) and George Washington University (M.A.), his first book of poetry, Too Much Explanation Can Ruin a Man, was published in 2005 by David Robert Books. He has previously taught at Chester College of New England, and his poems have appeared in The Formalist, First Things, Dark Horse, The Raintown Review, and Measure, as well as various anthologies, including Sonnets: 150 Contemporary Sonnets; Grace Notes; and Rhyming Poems. In 2006, his poem "The Empty Chair" won the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. He is currently a trustee of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire, a long-time member of the Powow River Poets, and a co-founder of the Hyla Brook Poets.Review:
In Robert W. Crawford's The Empty Chair, many of the traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, villanelle, and blank verse as well as various rhyming patterns are deftly handled with a keen ear for rhythm and sound, and the poetic arguments and analogies are laid out over the lines and stanzas with total clarity of logic, syntax, and diction. Many poems set in the poet s native New England are brief symbolic narratives using intimation, playful indirection, the almost unsaid, and persuasive, sometimes self-deprecating, humor to convey wisdom in a manner reminiscent of Robert Frost whose influence is present here, but not overwhelming. Crawford's poems have a simplicity and depth that make them worthy additions to contemporary formalist verse. As with the best short poems of Hardy, Housman, or Frost -- all poets of regional landscapes in which universal truths are firmly rooted -- Robert Crawford s finest poems, once planted there, lodge in the mind forever.
---- David Middleton
Not a false note in this book. Crawford's quiet unshowy virtuoso mastery of meter and rhyme and stanza is all of a piece with the poems' quietly joyful celebrations of family, community, the changes of seasons and weather, and the stars above. The next-to-last poem in the book has it right -- "You and I . . . unique arrangements." Community, family, and love, are fully located and realized in these poems, in these meters and rhymes and stanzas, and in these unique arrangements so beautifully handled.
---- David Ferry
The rhythms of Robert Frost echo in Robert W. Crawford. His poems have a New England flavor, but are universal. Narratives turn lyrical or wry without warning. His observations are clear-eyed, yet often romantic. The Empty Chair is a book crafted with countless surprises and joy, a true pleasure.
---- A.M. Juster
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Book Description University of Evansville Press, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0930982703