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Collected Shorter Poems
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. May 1999)
Of longing, Termia, the sharp specifics know
no end, and down its progress the sharp days
lose no edge, the hours
crumbling streambeds to strand
the source deeper in summer. Orchard ladders
lean into the moist sheen of dark globes.
from 'End of July'
The American poet John Peck's poems draw on both modernist and traditional resources, quarrying in the large gaps among contemporary audiences for poetry. The badge of 'difficulty' is routinely pinned to his work. Yet it may be that such poetry makes the incoherence of taste on both sides of the Atlantic more concretely perceptible.
This collection from six previous books provides an opportunity to frame such a question and test claims for the work made by James Powell, Reginald Gibbons, Clive Wilmer and Patrick McGuinness: that 'it issues from a poetics determined to give the reader the full weight and texture of experience and judgment, and from a poet who refuses to falsify the presentation of his full engagement with the
world'; and then, 'rare work, and among the best we have'; and then,
'for my money, the best poet of my generation, as indifferent to academic fashions as he is to those of the poetry
market'; and finally, 'the poems are so consistently and outstandingly beautiful that the desire to "understand" takes second place to the straightforward need to read
Collected Shorter Poems omits many of the translations from Hi-Lo (while including one new one), and excludes the recent long poem M, but collects for the first time five poems.
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