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Atomic Field: Two Poems Hardcover – April 3, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
All the old obsessions--stars, ice, girls, lost eras--are rekindled in Christopher's seventh book of poems. Two long poems--"1962" and "1972"--make up the entire collection, defining the poles of a decade in 90 page-long lyrics (45 per year). The whole might read like a Blakean "Songs of Innocence and Experience" were it not so tonally bland, a monotony emphasized on both sides of this rite of passage by each poem's single-page, single-stanza composition. Most stack up images that culminate in an epiphany. Many are sexy ("smoking blond hash in a Pyrex pipe--/ smoke the color of the moon's aureole--/ I unbutton your ankle-length tie-dyed dress") and appealingly quirky ("where the numismatist / when he is not in his tiny shop / where every cabinet is always kept locked / cultivates the hydraponic tomatos from Egypt / and orchids from Java"). Others revel in a grotesque burlesque, summoning a hometown troupe that includes limbless freaks, morticians and gypsies. Christopher has ample moves to cut a lyrical rug, whether ruminating on an aqua-powered Hydromobile where a family donning space suits in 2162 are "filling the car's fuel tank with a garden hose" or documenting the dread of suburban ennui where a housewife prepares a meal "for the bearded man naked/ under a quilt dotted with cigarette burns/ on a sofa with no legs, Daffy Duck on the portable/ television inches from his sleeping face." But too many of the poems end statically on words like "cold," "nothing" and in references to a cosmos both desolate and tired.There is a mythic, Ritsos-like ambition here, but the nostalgic quotidian of a decade joining the poet's adolescence and adulthood fails to generate the requisite sparks. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
...their combined effect is less explosive than ethereal. -- The New York Times Book Review, Megan Harlan