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Wishbone by Don Share
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Wishbone

by Don Share

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Share’s new collection shows just as much debt to tradition, formalism, the influence of philosophy on a writing life, and the chain of poetic influence as it displays an innovative and unique poetics very much in tune with contemporary life. A wonderful example of this fusion of the old and the new is “Ready for a Psalm of My Own”; here, Share uses loose iambic pentameter while describing city life and the chaos of hypermodernity: “What language do you speak / into your iPhone?” In Share’s hands, history and philosophy are also placed under a modern day microscope as in “Magna Carta”:

My umbrella
isn’t worth
the paper
it’s written on.


There are also some very short poems here which seem to be a poetics of urgency in that hustle and bustle world distilled to lines one might scan. These shorter poems are often prescient and deeply resonant: in one after Rilke, entitled “Hwaet,” Share invokes Rilke’s metaphysical form of angelic interrogation in order to receive even mere fragments of divine truth, and Share then subverts this with a very physical and almost Munchian image of despair:

Who among the angels would hear me
if I started screaming my head off?


“Bowling on the Day of Atonement” is a short elegy that proves a poem’s economy and its powerful images are often enough to convey what “news” a poem has to offer, to bring William Carlos Williams’s famous phrase to mind. In “Bowling...,” Share gives us anecdote and then poetic closure:

My old man used to say
a little rain never hurt anybody.

There were downpours
at his funeral.


Wishbone is a stellar collection that showcases an important contemporary poet “Rustling / in my own / silks” as Share elegantly puts it in “Poetry.” There is autobiography, an interrogation of language and meaning, questions posed to the great poets of the past as well as the iconographic discord between images of the past and the present, there are lines and turns of phrase that will stick with the reader long after finishing the collection—in short, Wishbone is wise, witty and occasionally so poetically sacriligious (“I wonder if Emily Dickinson knew / about Chicken Little?” Share muses in “Ballad of the Foolish Man”) that all poets and readers of contemporary poetry would do well to read and savor it slowly. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
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