From Publishers Weekly
Associated with poets growing out of the Beat movement, Vega's verse is at the well-measured and understated end of its spectrum. This 12th collection presents a generous cull of her work from the '70s, '80s and '90s,invoking the direct, even neoclassical energies felt within Corso and di Prima, and fortified by a Keatsian living lyricism. In "Little Ghost in the Station," she writes, "`Poor John is dead,' he sang,/ and now it was winter, quiet at the window,/ and she did not need a cigarette/ she needed to weep." A member of PEN's Prison Writing Committee, Vega has taught poetry in prisons for twenty years and is currently director of Incisions/Arts, an organization of writers working with people in prison. Some of Vega's overtly political poems reflect a deeply felt and aching knowledge that has tempered and fortified a poignant view of nature, human or otherwise: "just because fields are ready for/ planting doesn't mean/ the corn's already down there, green and/ waiting, or that raccoons will scream/ at night, their hands heavy with plunder/ might, might not be/ might, might not, the chattering crows/ wheel off." In other poems there is a note of passionate response to the death of the speaker's father, mother, friends, that show death as a natural fulfillment life. In a heartfelt elegy for Allen Ginsberg she writes, "Don't be sorry, you said, speaking/ of your death,/ I've been waiting all my life for this." Spanning over three decades and four continents--stops include Mexico, El Salvador, the former Czechoslovakia, Peru, Ireland, France, Holland, and all manner of locations in the U.S. and upstate New York--Vega's poems "go," (as Kerouac said, but with a difference) in their own patient, unadorned and dignified way. (Aug.)
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From Library Journal
Arranged in six sections, Vega!s 12th book of poems provides an in-depth tour of her poetic oeuvre. Each section echoes Vega!s recurrent themes: nature, death, prisoners, family history, and travels in Ireland and in South America. This collection, like many of the individual poems in it, could have used some editorial winnowing. Though Vega often shows a deftness of touch and a keen ear for language, the shorter poems are more powerful: dear butter/ your blues/ your mouth harp sweet/ chicago/ winter nights. In poem after poem, Vega shows herself to be an adept poet of place"as in the title poem, which describes a cafe in Les Halles: after a night we could find the strong/ men from the market/ and the beautiful prostitutes/ resting in each other!s arms/ Le Chat Qui PIche, Le Chien Qui Fume/ alive with Parisian waltzes, his hands on her ass. Unfortunately, when Vega tackles political issues, polemics dominate: Dear Nuclear Commission: Don!t you have children?/ Or grandchildren? What about them? But when she writes from the heart"as in To You on the Other Side of This, a love poem to a murdered son as well as a battle cry of anger directed at his killer"we are immediately drawn in. Recommended for larger poetry collections and all academic ones."Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
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