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Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part One; Poems Paperback – March 21, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A much-honored poet faces a global canvas in this lengthy, information-rich if sometimes repetitive sequence (the first in a promised trilogy), whose poems consider interracial contact, conflict and misunderstanding in the African diaspora, from Herodotus, ancient Greece and Egypt to modern (not to say modernist) New York. Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Faulkner's Miss Emily, Perseus, Othello, Anne Frank and several giants of jazz stand among the many whose legacy (evil, praiseworthy or both) prompts at least one poem. The large cast makes the book feel at times exhilaratingly expansive, at other times simply crowded—no poet has used this much history, this many figures and famous names, since Robert Lowell (himself another character here). Komunyakaa won a Pulitzer for 1993's Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, which featured his extraordinarily skillful jazz-inspired short lines. Those lines here serve off- balance three-line stanzas that bear tremendous weights of raw information, and finally carry the book. The best poems either tell unfamiliar stories (Benedict the Moor, in the volume's moving finale) or eschew proper nouns for personal reflection ("In Line at the Bank"). If other verse tells more than it can show, or sounds more reportorial than lyrical, the whole sequence testifies to a skill, and an ambition, that will surely continue to merit national attention.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Komunyakaa, a master of restraint, uses form to concentrate deep emotions, and the ancient stories of Greece, Rome, and Africa, as well as works of art, to reveal the lineage of our own tragedies. In his last collection, Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000), he limited himself to poems constructed of four-line stanzas. Here, in the first volume in his planned Wishbone trilogy, he writes in electrifying tercets as he pays homage to men and women caught in the cruel paradoxes of racism and the grinding wheels of history. Komunyakaa offers no background information, leaving it up to the reader to puzzle together carefully arranged shards, fragments, and remnants to discern the identities of the historic figures he portrays, which include "Monticellan Sally" and Jeanne Duval, the beloved, respectively, of Jefferson and Baudelaire; the artist Edmonia Lewis; Thomas McKeller, an elevator operator who posed for John Singer Sargent; Ralph Ellison; and Satchmo. Glinting mosaics, Komunyakaa's poems--potent works of empathy, scholarship, and imagination--poignantly reclaim those who braved the treacherous borderland between white and black. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part One; Poems
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