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What We Don't Know about Each Other (National Poetry Series) Paperback – July 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The supernatural moves to the forefront in Raab's ( Other Children ) fourth collection: ghosts, angels, outer space, dreams. While such topics prompt mediocre poets into cliches, Raab's highly lyrical meditations are so concrete that readers are sucked into his magical netherworld. He opens a long sequential poem, for example, by issuing the directive to "Look at what we're looking at / right now--that tree, that hill. / Who can see it for itself?" Presented in this context, even mundane objects assume an ethereal aspect: crows in a snowstorm, a dog, dead trees. The poet's alternating use of a collective "we" in referring to the speaker and an all-encompassing "you" for those addressed provides an innovative variation on what would otherwise be a hackneyed style. In the book's final 20 pages, where the poet addresses various family members by name, universal concepts such as beauty and truth take on a greater specificity. His musings reach their climax in a poem dedicated to an older brother. Here, his poetic powers at their height, the speaker questions what went wrong between them, imagines all the experiences they might have shared, and for the first time initiates conversation with this sibling who died before his own birth. Selected for the National Poetry Series by Stephen Dunn.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In "Since You Asked," a poem that might serve as a model for Raab's approach in this highly readable and enticing collection, the poet imagines the perfect dinner party, with endless glasses of wine, numberless chickens, congenial guests, and even dead trees that miraculously spring back to life. Raab is a poet of possibilities, and this collection describes the "other world"--the virtual realities surrounding and defining ordinary life. Into the familiar world of suburban family life intrude the eerie presences of monsters, aliens, ghosts, and dead brothers almost, but not quite, forgotten. As Raab says, "Don't we look beautiful in the picture/ no one ever took?" Each poem takes the form of an overheard conversation. A lost mother returns, the elm trees of childhood shine in the sun, and the poet shows us how "to uncover some personal design in everything." Highly recommended.
- Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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