Monday, August 22, 2011

Huffington Post: Carol Muske-Dukes on Sydney Lea's Young of the Year

Syd Lea's Young of the Year (Four Way Books) might seem predictable at first in its narrative of advancing age and family life, its memories of youth and jazz. Small town New England is familiar poetry-territory but Lea is so skillful at injecting emotion into his terse yet lyrical syllables -- the world is uncommon again:

"Under the garish fast-food billboard/which insults a field on Route 10/always in tilth before the farm/like so many others went down/and its owners dispersed -- under that come-on/for the famous Happy Meal/two men of indeterminate age/are plucking dandelions."

It is that tart economical diction and tight syntax that yet reveal a broader empathy -- a soaring sensibility. People are homeless and hungry, the landscape often ungenerous, but in many of these poems, kindness is the miracle. Miracles abound in this book.