Robert P. Baird
by Joseph Donahue
$15.95 List Price
It sometimes seems that cleverness is the sine qua non of contemporary poetry—the tie that binds Kay Ryan and Kenneth Goldsmith, Charles Bernstein and Billy Collins. And if that’s the case, then Joseph Donahue is not a contemporary poet.
But with Terra Lucida, a book that revises and extends a cycle he’s been publishing since 1998, Donahue stakes a wager that poetry doesn’t have to play to our inner Jon Stewart. In place of superficial ironies and satires, he offers an abiding gravity that colors his work from vision to tone. This deep (but never dour) seriousness is most evident in the poems’ elevated pitch, which Donahue sustains whether he’s describing Adam in hell or a dinner party. Even a pill overdose comes in for the high style: “My body, crumpled in our dormitory. / My body, a body among bodies
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