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Optimist: Poems (Hollis Summers Poetry Prize) Paperback – December 15, 2004
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From the Publisher
In choosing this book for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, final judge James Cummins, wrote:
"Mehigan accesses a tradition of voices . . . to form with great integrity his own. It isnt that Mehigan is concerned more with whats outside himself than inside; nor merely that he travels the highway between the two with such humility and grace. Its also that these voices, this great tradition, infuse his line with what the best verse, metrical or free, must have: wonder." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
"Promenade" furnishes Mehigan with a hilarious excuse for an overripe rhetoric, as it appears to be a dramatic monologue for a fatuous, middle-aged bachelor, ending on a beautiful, nonsense mock-aphorism. This poem's companion piece could be the brilliant "Another Pygmalion". Both evince the poet's eclat, somehow reckless and modest at the same time. "Promenade" is written in rhyming couplets, yet so sinuously and with such a sure touch at enjambment that the effect is rather peekaboo than Pope and "Another Pygmalion" although printed in a solid block reveals itself to be written in perfect, albeit run-over, terza rima. "A Bird at the Leather Mill" has the eerie quality of a parable by Kierkegaard or Kafka. "Buzzards" feels like it may have its origin in family anecdote, but also reminds this reader of the underappreciated metaphysical lyrics of Leonie Adams. In this poem and many others he can be moving, "In the Home of my Sitter", "The Optimist", "Introduction to Poetry" among them.
That Mr. Mehigan can write such tender, bitter, ruefully comic scenes of upstate New York working-class life and also write very good poems with titles such as "Imperative of the Minor Florentine Chapel" and "Alexandra", about a fourth century anchoress, testifies to his range.Read more ›
Sometimes Mehigan's imagery borders on the grotesque and comical, as in the dreamlike "Merrily," where a Rimbaud-like speaker, drifting downstream, remarks on the mesmerizing scenery in a series of bewildered questions: "West, through the trees' meshed crowns, light scattering / toward such specific ends! Why those? And why / these flexed roots? Why that oak's failed rendering / of coupled elephants in living wood?"
Perhaps the most memorable image in the book appears at the conclusion of the opening poem, "Promenade," when the wind at an outdoor wedding in Queens creates a climactic spectacle that is both grittily urban and wittily urbane: "Every face turns to look; / and when the bride's tall orange bun's unpinned / by ordinary, inconvenient wind, / all, in the breath it takes a yard of hair / to blaze like lighted aerosol, would swear/ there was no greater miracle in Queens. / Wish is the word that sounds like what wind means."
Good luck trying to forget that last line. Now go buy the book and discover for yourself why Joshua Mehigan is already a poet for the ages.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mehigan is a young poet who is deeply talented and it shows with his first book. Mehigan has definitely learned his trade. These poems are well-crafted and tightly made. Read morePublished on July 30, 2009 by firstname.lastname@example.org
What a pleasant surprise to find new poetry that is carefully crafted, intelligent, and genuinely moving. If only more poets writing today took their craft as seriously. Read morePublished on November 5, 2007 by Rose Smith