Mark Doty, Deep Lane (Cape); Frances Leviston, Disinformation (Picador); Christopher Reid, The Curiosities (Faber).
(Three collections reviewed for the June issue of Literary Review, here with – slightly – critical notes restored.)
Mark Doty’s ninth collection displays his customary gifts of empathic observation, collapsing the distance between poet and subject to establish an observance of both secular and sexual mysteries. This is accomplished by an intensity of sensual imagery, and through an ecstatic syntax, as in this passage about Jackson Pollock: ‘Forget supplication,
beseechment, praise. Look down
into it, the smash-up swirl, oil and pigment and tree-shatter:
tumult in equilibrium.
His focus on the redemptive act of gardening, in the titular series of poems called ‘Deep Lane’, and the fit between this and the animalistic, exemplified by masterful descriptions of, among other creatures, his dog, a fish, a mole, a mammoth, and a goat, is driven by a Yeatsian…
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