From Publishers Weekly
From Nobel Prize–winner Walcott comes a 14th collection of poems, richly textured in sound and image, and spanning many countries and memories. From his native Caribbean to Italy, Spain, England, the Netherlands, and the United States, Walcott meditates on the passage of time, fallen empires, bygone love affairs, and mortality. Throughout, in metrically complex verses, he writes about the vocation of the poet with a virtuosic ear and a painterly eye (Walcott is also an accomplished watercolor and oil painter): my craft and my craft's thought make parallels/ from every object, the word and the shadow of the word/ makes a thing both itself and something else/ til we are metaphors and not ourselves/ in an empirical language that keeps growing. Walcott describes a wistful search for home in these poems—Silly to think of heritage when there isn't much, he writes—while also expressing deep joy and thanks that he finds his true and permanent home in poetry. This is poetry's weather, he says of a rainy day in Venice, a lovely moment in a beautiful book. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* Long, lush, yet battering poems that surge and retract and return like the sea, like breath, are Nobel laureate Walcott’s forte. In his fourteenth collection, he curves this grand form away from the epic and toward the personal, examining the ruins of love and the puzzles of age as he enters his eightieth year. The title poem, punctuated by “stalking egrets” and “clattering parrots” and revved by a tree-tossing storm, is part elegy and part rhapsody and includes this artist’s credo: “The perpetual ideal is astonishment.” That is the state of being Walcott summons as he takes measure of yearning, regrets, and resistance to turmoil, reveling, instead, in the exaltation of earth, sky, and ocean as birds embody feelings and poetry itself. In gorgeous evocations of place––Sicily, Spain, Italy, London, New York, Amsterdam––Walcott writes of the “nausea of absence,” then rejects despair in a startling moment of connection, addressing, “You, my dearest friend, Reader.” His tropes swoop in like birds returning to roost, winged words in jazzy riffs that lift and plunge, flashing light and shadow as Walcott, a not-unscarred literary warrior reports, “I have kept the same furies.” And, looking ahead, “So much to do still, all of it praise.” --Donna Seaman