by David Clewell
University of Wisconsin Press, 1994
Paper: 978-0-299-14414-2
Library of Congress Classification PS3553.L42N68 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

David Clewell’s graceful, honest lines accumulate and remind us that poems can be as tangible, as substantial, as redemptive as those things the poet will not let go unspoken in the world. His compassionate witness is born out of immersion in doggedly bittersweet particulars: the cockeyed wisdom of 1950s science fiction movies; Do Not Disturb signs; vegetarian physics; the perils of bed-and-breakfast lodging; flying saucer disciples; what to do in case of Rapture; Debbie Fuller, reluctant childhood angel; the theory and practice of Spontaneous Human Combustion. His passionate transformation of that raw data into song—no matter how fragile or raucous—provides irrefutable testimony about the consequences of being nothing less than human, where “every day someone crawls out of his ocean of sleep / and takes those first tottering steps on the planet again, / he’s playing with real fire.” And with Clewell’s insistence on the unlikely grace in that condition, along with the generosity of his unabashed inclusiveness, his poetry is a powerful antidote to the bad medicine we‘re too often asked to swallow.
    This is a book of sustenance, of fresh assurances that come to us—ready or not—out of the blue of this spirited poet’s most engaging work yet.

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