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Downsides of Fish Culture (New Issues Press Poetry Series) Paperback – December 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: New Issues Press Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 63 pages
  • Publisher: New Issues Pr Poetry Series; 1 Ed. edition (December 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932826555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932826558
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,379,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The theme of lost innocence has been thoroughly explored since William Blake, but in his first book Lee gives this theme a contemporary edge. Lamenting his inability to make "anything tide [him] over until the next life," Lee's speaker captures the essence of a generation: the angst, the dysfunctions, and the tragedy "of our simple humanness?an evolutionary extension/ of what might become." Yet the poems do not fall into the trap of melodrama, instead projecting a ray of hope in a world in which "the barbed wire fence drip[s] blood." Many of the poems are ambitious without being overwritten. Lee knows when to hammer have a point and when to invoke humor. As a result, the speaker is able to "look back/ on those grub years with fondness." This volume of poetry belongs in every poetry collection.?Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

David Dodd Lee opens Downsides of Fish Culture with an invitation to take a fork "and stab it into your hand." ("A Poem About Pike") later, in the poem "First Turtle," we ought to feel the pain before its headless body is left in the bucket to drain, but it tips the bucket and walks fifty yards away from it. Lee's poetry can be reminiscent of Ted Hughes' monosyllabic earthiness. In the title poem of the collection, Lee writes:

It came like a wave over the hot

boiled earth,

the end of the first death,

the womb with the mechanized purr,

the truck almost like comfort

after the cracked walls

and scalps dragged

through black water, -- David Chorlton, Poet Lore, Volume 93, No. 2

In the poems of David Dodd Lee, the world of nature, impassioned, swift, is not just out there in the Michigan drifts-- it is in here, in us. How powerfully we are made to know this, beyond mere hope or reckless sorrow, is what I find most stunning-- and most frightening about his poems. -- Nancy Eimers

Lee reminds us that the richest act of imagination is-- above all else-- an act of empathy. Both the sadness and exhilaration in this poet's heart of hearts-- the living poem itself-- become the reader's too. This refreshingly original debut collection is full of fragile human atoms on the loose somewhere between versions of terror and sheer delight. We come to count on this poet's stubborn insistence: in the war against despair, the spoils of comfort and sustenance must be re-invented, again and again, on our dizzying everyday walks through the world. -- David Clewell

Like the natural world David Dodd Lee knows from the inside, his poems are comprised of grace and violence in equal parts, mesmerizing and inescapable rhythms, and dark but brightly lit imagery-- compelling poems sprung from the dark heart of American poetry. -- Rick Lyon


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jim zola on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Lee writes poetry the way a normal person lives life. Not always perfect poetic form or pattern or even sense. But often out of control in love or hate or lust and with a sense of urgency that is more real than 99% of the poetry out there today. Read it out loud in a crowded room at your local University. Read it aloud at your local beer and peanuts hole-in-the wall. Lee is not afraid. Or is he is afraid, he is not afriad of saying so. These poems are full of growing up. Or they are the child grown standing in a field of mud and lust and wondering how he got to be there. This poet will only get better. Can't wait for his next set of fish stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louise A. Mathias on April 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
These poems are full of a violent, clear eyed vision and a great humanity. When David Dodd Lee casts his gaze on the damaged world, he sees EVERYTHING... danger, heartbreak, beauty.In poem after poem he seems to question how these things can possibly co exist in the world, and yet in his poems they do. His sensibility is like nothing I've seen in contemporary poetry; immediate, haunting, full of gut & heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By upinmichigan.org on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
David Dodd Lee, Downsides of Fish Culture

(New Issues Press, 1997)

reviewed by Erin Marks

David Dodd Lee's Downsides of Fish Culture is a collection of poetry that seems to live and breath off the page, reaching out to expose itself to unsuspecting readers. Dodd's modern, free-formed verse speaks of the everlasting constants in life: death, violence, nature, and love in an honest and often times fierce fashion. He brings terror to the page, even, as the reader must face the harsh realities that make life the brutal experience that it is. One such terrifying yet wonderfully crafted image is created in "Watching Some of Them Live," which ironically traces the presence of death in multiple forms. In the poem, Dodd writes of a woman who "had disemboweled herself merely by standing up/ She and another nurse had to pick up the entrails and stuff/ them/ back into the body/ She died, of course, about two days later". Dodd holds nothing back from us, especially not the gruesome details and disturbing images that are, in fact, part of the reality of life. He writes with a blatant honesty, which can only be respected and revered for its fearlessness.

Much of Dodd's poetry in the collection reflects upon his own life, which has roots in Muskegon, Michigan, where he grew up. We are given bits and pieces of his memory as in the poem "1981" in which he writes "Muskegon mired itself down deep, butted up against the dunes/ and I had been twenty forever". Dodd's Michigan background makes his work especially intriguing to fellow Michigan residents, as they too can have an even more close connection with his words and the images he tries to convey. Such references are often made to Michigan's natural beauties such as rivers, dunes, and the Great Lakes.
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