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Road Atlas: Prose and Other Poems

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From Brazil to Manitoba, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, 1999 MacArthur Fellow Campbell McGrath charts a poetics of place and everyday experience. Road Atlas is personal, provocative and accessible -- the finest work yet from "the most Swiftian poet of his generation" (David Biespiel, Hungry Mind Review). From Brazil to Manitoba, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, 1999 MacArthur Fellow Campbell McGrath charts a poetics of place and everyday experience. Road Atlas is personal, provocative and accessible -- the finest work yet from "the most Swiftian poet of his generation" (David Biespiel, Hungry Mind Review).


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From Brazil to Manitoba, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, 1999 MacArthur Fellow Campbell McGrath charts a poetics of place and everyday experience. Road Atlas is personal, provocative and accessible -- the finest work yet from "the most Swiftian poet of his generation" (David Biespiel, Hungry Mind Review). From Brazil to Manitoba, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, 1999 MacArthur Fellow Campbell McGrath charts a poetics of place and everyday experience. Road Atlas is personal, provocative and accessible -- the finest work yet from "the most Swiftian poet of his generation" (David Biespiel, Hungry Mind Review).

30 review for Road Atlas: Prose and Other Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    A collection of mostly prose poems by one of my favorite modern poets. McGrath is very good on "the road". A collection of mostly prose poems by one of my favorite modern poets. McGrath is very good on "the road".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Don Wentworth

    What's a prose poem, you ask? Something Campbell McGrath writes exceptionally well is the answer. This is as good a volume of modern American poetry as you are likely to encounter and, as such, is highly recommended. McGrath references James Wright an American master of the prose poem, and, though not quite up to that level, these poems are very fine, indeed. What's a prose poem, you ask? Something Campbell McGrath writes exceptionally well is the answer. This is as good a volume of modern American poetry as you are likely to encounter and, as such, is highly recommended. McGrath references James Wright an American master of the prose poem, and, though not quite up to that level, these poems are very fine, indeed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    Road Atlas was good, but not stellar. When I read the later In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys: Poems, I felt that the prose poems were among the weaker offerings of the collection. As such, I was a little nervous when I saw that Road Atlas was almost exclusively prose poems. The form did work somewhat better here than in his later collection, but there were still a number of rather lackluster pieces, and the best poem was "Biscayne Boulevard", one of the few verse (or verse only) pieces in the b Road Atlas was good, but not stellar. When I read the later In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys: Poems, I felt that the prose poems were among the weaker offerings of the collection. As such, I was a little nervous when I saw that Road Atlas was almost exclusively prose poems. The form did work somewhat better here than in his later collection, but there were still a number of rather lackluster pieces, and the best poem was "Biscayne Boulevard", one of the few verse (or verse only) pieces in the book. The poems of Road Atlas are a chronicle of travels, of movements and locations, mimicking the book of maps that titles the collection. McGrath displays an engagement with his surroundings, spinning environmental travelogues and tourist rhapsodies. The only sense of place notably absent from the collection is one of home. He goes everywhere, but no impression is ever provided of centrality; McGrath gives transience to all locations equally, even when describing permanent abodes and referencing his position as a professor at Florida International University. He tends toward the fancifully mundane in his imagery, vibrant and sideways, but not always successful. Some of the best images: "Evenings, working girls from the topless clubs shop their wares among these stripmalls of chop suey and gospel Creole, glass bones of liquor stores, the glorious ruin of these moherls: New Deal, Mardi Gras, Vagabong, Hacienda" (From "Biscayne Boulevard") "On TV: images of flame, multitudes of flame, silent minions and consorts of flame." (from "Baker, California") "It is not the life but the poems that matter to me, those you abandoned with mere hints and allegations, Christmas toys agog on the rug, their hungry mouths, demanding as tulips, impatient as an infant" (from "Sylvia Plath") Some of the images that were less functional:"a neighborhood place among passageways of date-palms, clean and friendly, where I am catered to like a meteorite crash-landed in the courtyard" (from "Yogurt & Clementines") "is as nothing to what we left behind, the merest anthill against the great Pyramid of Cheops, a sidewalk crevice compared to that Grand Canyon of commodities. Bright laughter, summer skies. So they descended into the abyss." (from "Capitalist Poem #42") The best poems--"Biscayne Boulevard", "Sylvia Plath", "Baker, California", "Manitoba", "Tabernacle, New Jersey", and "The Gulf"--are fantastic and sensitive, but the weaker pieces seem to be reaching unsuccessfully for the same things that he accomplishes during the best of them. A collection worth reading, but not one to go too far out of one's way to find.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Strikingly mediocre.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    worth reading for "Mainitoba". worth reading for "Mainitoba".

  6. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    esp. "Baker, California." esp. "Baker, California."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jana Washington

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Ryberg

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  10. 4 out of 5

    Burnette

  11. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Brown

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nina Romano

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Karpel

  14. 4 out of 5

    CX Dillhunt

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fritz

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Ermer

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aseem Kaul

  19. 5 out of 5

    F.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hazelton

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Jackson

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Kupper

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Badri

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Arndt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe Greene

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