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Hoops: Poems Paperback – September 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In his second collection, National Book Critics Circle Award–finalist Jackson (Leaving Saturn, 2002) pays tribute to timeless and timely monuments of American culture and history. Set mostly in an urban landscape, the poems range over a variety of addresses: one envisions neighborhood basketball as a metaphor for life ("The body on defense,/ Playing up close, ghoulish,/ Lacking grace, afraid/ He'd go face-to-face"); others recall the trials and travails of adolescence or pay homage to writers like Shirley Jackson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. In one poem, a grandfather struggles to maintain his integrity in a changing world: "he has watched the neighborhood,—/ postwar marble steps, a scrubbed frontier/ of Pontiacs lining the curb, fade to a hood"; in another, a fourth-grade teacher unable to remember her students' names like "Tarik, Shaniqua, [and] Amari... nicknamed the entire class/ after French painters." The long poem "Letter to Brooks," attempts to explain the contemporary scene to the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet who died in 2000. This book works to forge a large and spacious America, one capable of housing imagination.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From The New Yorker
The slangy title of Jackson's second collection is a layered metaphor, implying, among other things, basketball, jewelry, and life's hurdles. Jackson seems to define himself by his eclecticism; he reveres basketball players as much as poets. Recalling his early life in a rough Philadelphia neighborhood, he draws nourishment from a sense of his acuity: "My breathing / was older than me." His poems are witty, musical, and intelligent; he is equally happy discussing the war on terror"An empire croons, toughed-up in a trance"or describing early crushes: "The swagger / behind their blue-tinted sunglasses and low-rider / jeans hurt boys like me." Other subjects include Columbine, Tupac Shakur, iPods, and, above all, the condition and future of the black poet. In a final flourish of contrast, Jackson writes an epistolary poem to Gwendolyn Brooks, in a recognizable, albeit flexible, rhyme royal.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.