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In a time of literarily impoverished general American culture, the art and craft and articulate passion of poetry is alive and well. Harry Clifton's compilation of his poetry published by the Wake Forest University Press, "Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004" is evidence that deftly crafted poetry is still being published and made available to readers who value and appreciate how poetry can best express impressions of the world in which we live. Clifton left his native Ireland to travel the world (like so many other young Irishmen born in the 1950s), eventually to return to a new Ireland that had evolved into a multicultural sophistication unknown just a few decades earlier. Highly recommended and thoughtful reading, "Secular Eden" is a body of his verse that focuses upon his impressions while visiting the legendary capital and diverse people of France with competing and conflicting elements of religious tradition and perspectives of modern secular culture. 'Theft of a Leather Jacket': Theft of a leather jacket, fifty francs/And a set of keys. Report it at the desk--/No need for police, no need for the local bank/To change our in-code. Little risk/In a city of millions, in the small hours,/Of the ultimate stranger, the thief in the night,/A wandering moonbeam, highlights in his hair,/Suddenly standing before us, life a fright/Or an apparition, killing for metro fare/Or conscience money, chemicals or food./For sexual favours, anything we share,/Loving each other, dealing in stolen goods.
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