From Publishers Weekly
With his fourth book of verse, the aptly titled Jab, the Ohio-based poet-critic Mark Halliday (Selfwolf) veers skillfully between autobiographical reminiscence and bleakly comic free-associations, offering late-baby-boomer slices of life along with up-to-date self-consciousness (somewhere between James Tate and Albert Goldbarth). One moment he promises "a poem so rich it made normal living look like sawdust"; the next he's "telling stories about our absent-minded teachers/ who forgot damn near everything except what they really loved."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Writing as a baby boomer chagrined to find his dreams intact after decades of mild disappointment, Halliday is not fashionable. He is prolix and quotidian, a Whitman in a supermarket, a confessional poet who does not take himself very seriously. In one poem, he answers a colleague's challenge: "Poems should be aggressively fictive / since fictivity is mandated anyway. I guess I dig." His cool patter skewers pomposity—and itself, being so self-consciously out of date. Halliday speaks in dissonant cultural registers, defying irony: "To dissolve into a category, / is that why I marched this far … / lugging these bags and parcels bedecked with surprising stickers?"
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker