Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review of "Torn" in Ploughshares

Christopher Hennessy reviews C. Dale Young's Torn for Ploughshares.

"The deftly handled “Quiet City” is one of the most successful, most poignant poems to take up poetry’s limits. It begins as reverie, a poet turning to an old fountain pen as he tries to write. The narrative shifts in a single, striking moment, when the speaker compares the evening view (gray pigeons outside the window) to smoky clouds carrying papers (scraps of memos, reports) that floated overhead earlier that morning as “we stood in the street watching the sky.” Can we help but see the morning and aftermath of September 11, 2001—a speaker transfixed by a sky “that steadies itself above a city / circled only by pigeons,” clouds of papery debris? The poem ends perhaps the only way it can: “I may never find the right words to describe this.”

Young’s poems are about much more than the limits of expression. He writes about memories of youthful, conflicted desire (a young boy struggling with the lingering looks he gives other boys); the prejudice, homophobia, and violence that poison society, including the very doctors who are supposed to heal (Young is himself a practicing doctor); and the plaguing self-doubt, whether instigated by religious belief, the “inheritance” of blood, or one’s own failures."

Go here to read the rest of the review. And be sure to order a copy of Torn so that you can see what all the fuss is about.