From Publishers Weekly
Exuberant description meets political protest and amateur natural history in this fifth volume from MacArthur grant winner McGrath (Road Atlas), whose new poems speak to his adopted state's ills and illusions. The very readable opening sequence adapts Aristophanes to tell the story of a city luxurious, based on tourism, deeply divided that flourishes, then founders, in the clouds: as McGrath's poem unfolds, his cloud metropolis comes to resemble first the United States, then Florida, complete with rampant hedonism, alligators and struggling immigrants. Awe and resentment alternate throughout short poems in the middle of the volume, which view specific locales: a long-lined lyric evokes "jasmine, egret in moonlight, trade wind through the jacaranda," while a comical villanelle explores "the annual State Fair, a very weird place." More discursive poems tag along with an early explorer or visit McGrath's wrath on Orlando, "city with the character of a turnpike restroom." Last, best and longest, "The Florida Poem" takes readers on a vatic tour of the whole state, through "technocrats and mousketeer apparatchiks" to "indigenous culture ripped from the walls/ by the wind of European arrival." Though some passages sound clunky or rushed, McGrath's gregarious phraseologies and expandable forms (one based on the alphabet, another on journals) suit his odd blend of comedy and jeremiad. Readers who take special pleasure in Billy Collins or in Florida itself will find McGrath's book something to remember. (Feb.)Forecast: Topical and colloquial enough to garner review attention, this book should also generate profiles in glossies and seems an NPR natural,, given McGrath's solid mid-career stage. The volume's theme seems guaranteed to snag home-state media: look for regional interest, and perhaps even (given the dis of Disney) some controversy.
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“[Florida Poems] is part Walt Disney, part Old Testament. [McGrath] possesses and displays extraordinary dexterity.” (Dionisio Martinez, Miami Herald)
“Readers who take special pleasure in Billy Collins or in Florida itself will find McGrath’s book something to remember.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Stunning....fierce.” (New York Times Book Review)
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