Kirkus Review: Grinnell's debut poetry collection ranges far andwide--history poems collide with the blues, elegy provokes eulogy, andnarrative breaks into lyric. The book's organization into just fournumbered sections belies the largesse of its contents. Crammed withdetails, these poems are dedicated to specific people (such as musicians Leadbelly and Jimi Hendrix and painter Edvard Munch), and many hew tospecific places and dates. Their detail is a strong suit ... dialogueencrusts the lines, and engaging diction embroiders them. This is not to say the poems are all surface and no heart, as deep subjects lurkunderneath the display. "The Down-home Harrower," for example, openswith its speaker's confessional crankiness: "My whole life I've beensort of shaky-like most warm afterglows / but hard as a freezing foolcan be, understand--way deep-- /nobody your crowd would care to surround with its wineglass / chitchat... / My whole life lay waiting to clutchyou to my sacred, my barbwire /heart." The straining syntax anddialectlike diction create a voice worth listening to--one that can tell readers something about love and threat. Although the majority of thepoems take people as their subjects, the poet depicts landscapes,too.... The haunting"Vapor Waltz" includes the cosmos in its mourningsong: "With no time left, my love, / whole galaxies have fled. / With no time left in your eyes-- / come glide from your cooling bed!" Thesepoems search out the powers that "erupt each night / in stars, insights, and cornered crowds." Alive, inspired verses from a poet with ample and accomplished range.
About the Author
Jeff Grinnell grew up in the small city of Waterloo, Iowa. After earning a BA and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in the1970s, he moved on to Chicago and then the Boston area (where heattended one of Robert Fitzgerald's last classes on prosody). In 1983 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually received an MLIS atUniversity of California, Berkeley. After working in libraries in Cambridge, San Francisco andSan Mateo County, CA he retired in 2006. His poems have appeared in TheParis Review, The New York Quarterly, The Literary Review, Colere, TheSouth Carolina Review, Spillway, Wisconsin Review, and The Texas Review, among others. He lives with his wife, Shirley, near Redwood City, CA.He is currently producing videos of some of his poems on YouTube.