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Reading The Water (Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize) Paperback – Unabridged, October 30, 1997
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From Library Journal
In his introduction to this first volume, winner of the Samuel French Morse Prize, Edward Hirsch praises Webb's stand-up comic stance, but do poetry and mundane, superficial comedy really belong together? Webb, who is also a psychotherapist, takes a glib view of his fellow humans, creating a muse whose favorite comment is, "The main theme of modern life is the humiliation of the protagonist." In all but his most powerful, seemingly personal poems ("The Death of Santa Claus," "Blind"), he uses craft to replace content. "I was sunk in complacency/ with my good salary, good job, good girlfriend,/ writing good poems about nothing (or next to)." A very astute observation he unfortunately does not heed. Not recommended.?Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
According To The Rule
The Crane Boy
The Dead Run
The Death Of Santa Claus
Flying Fish In The Jet Stream
Girl At A Window
How Lizzie Died
In Praise Of Pliny
In The War Zone
Invocation To Allen As The Muse Euterpe
The Mummy Meets Hot-headed Naked Ice-borers
Poem For The Future
Prayer For The Man Who Mugged My Father, 72
Reading The Water
The Reasonable Man
The Shape Of History
The Temptations Of Pinocchio
Twenty Years Late To See The Rocky Horror Picture Show
What The Poets Would Have Done For You
Without Being A Wimp
You Missed The Earthquake, Bill
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®
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Using traditional poetry forms and the incidents of everyday life, Webb crafts some really witty and wonderful little poems. Whether he's writing about a Cristo art project (Umbrellas) or The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Twenty Years Too Late to See The Rocky Horror...), he uncovers the amazing in the mundane. Several have a pretty sharp edge to them, like Prayer for the Man Who Mugged My Father, 72--suffice it to say, the mugger hopes the prayer doesn't come to pass. And a couple are just really funny, like Broken Toe, where the title occurrence at least snaps him out of his middle aged complacency. And I found one image that for me really captures what poetry can do at its best, the clever use of words to paint an indelible image. It's from the poem Spiders:
Their webs, transparent fielders' gloves,
pluck flies out of mid-air.
The baseball analogy alone is enough to get my attention, but the play on the word flies exemplifies the cleverness on display throughout this collection.
The poems of Charles Harper Webb are well worth checking out. I found a bunch of his poems on-line and linked to them below--give them a try and if you see the book for $1, grab it.