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Alternate Means of Transport

by Cynthia Macdonald

Series: Knopf Poetry Series (19)

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» See also 5 mentions

Every so often I read a book which I can see, objectively, has many merits, but which fails to connect with me. Such is the case with "Alternate Means of Transport". The poems in this collection are sophisticated and technically accomplished. They are very New York, urban, urbane.

But though there are many poems here to sit back and admire, very few moved or excited me. I will say that I enjoyed the collection more as it went along: I couldn't get into the title sequence at all, with its puzzling obsession with hats, whereas I found the love poems in the last sequence much more engaging.

The little extract below was one I did enjoy, and it shows the wit and craft of Cynthia Macdonald's poetry to best effect:

But this is Hungary. Here M. and I live in Buda,
Looking at Pest across the river. Ginsberg
Came through last month and proclaimed himself the former,
But all the poets here agree that, sitting on a chair atop
A table, instructing them on instant meditation, he was
The latter.
(from "Letter to Richard from Budapest")

Cynthia Macdonald is a very accomplished poet, so don't let me put you off. But what can I say? This collection just didn't grab me. ( )
  timjones | Apr 30, 2010 |
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