You Are Here
Paul Breslin Northwestern University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3552.R392Y68 2000 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Acerbic, rueful, tender, and suffused with understated wit, Paul Breslin's first collection of poems inhabits a realm of hard truths: the human condition in extremis, imprisoned or enslaved; the urban nightmare of incipient violence; the universe of adult dementia seen from the perspective of the baffled child.
Winnowed from a distinguished career, then distilled, then polished and winnowed again, the poems in You Are Here are Leon Stokesbury’s best from fifty years of published work.
The selections from his earlier volumes are as fully realized as one would expect from the winner of the AWP Poetry Competition and the Poets’ Prize. But it is in Stokesbury’s new work, collected under the heading “These Days,” that he reveals something completely different. From a carnival sideshow to Hitchcock’s Mount Rushmore, from John Keats’s backyard to the miseries of a failed crematorium operator, every turned page divulges a particular we didn’t see coming. You Are Here is like a sideshow of this modern world, even when we discover, amazed, our selves looking back at us.
“Why do we still only stand here?” Stokesbury asks in one of his earliest salvos. The poems in this collection give such varied answers that readers will have no idea what the next page holds, only that they will find themselves somewhere new.