In his new collection of poems, Dick Davis, the acclaimed author of Belonging, addresses themes that he has long worked with—travel, the experience of being a stranger, the clash of cultures, the vagaries of love, the pleasures and epiphanies of meaning that art allows us. But A Trick of Sunlight introduces a new theme that revolves around the idea of happiness—is it possible, must it be illusory, is its fleetingness an essential part of its nature so that disillusion is inevitable?
Many of the poems are shaded by the poet’s awareness of growing older, and by the ways that this both shuts down many of life’s possibilities and frees us from their demands. The levity of some verses here is something of a departure for Davis, but his insights can be mordant too, revealing darknesses as often as they invoke frivolity.
As Davis’s readers have come to expect, the poems in A Trick of Sunlight. aim at the aesthetic satisfactions that accompany accurate observations expressed with wit, intelligence, and grace. But they achieve as well an immediacy and rawness of vision that seem to belie his careful craft.