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  • By Roger Stoll
    Nov 27, 2018
    Buff Whitman-Bradley’s usual polish, wit, and musical ear shine in CROWS WITH BAD WRITING, but with something darker and brighter than in the past: death’s presumed nearness prompts a leavetaking of things he loves; but it is a celebration of nature all the same, anthropomorphic and very funny. Explicitly political poems are fewer than in past work. (Previous poetry books include: CANCER CANTATA, WHEN COMPASSES GROW OLD, and TO GET OUR BEARINGS IN THIS WHEELING WORLD. A widely published poet, Whitman-Bradley is also a documentary filmmaker and writer on politics, education and travel.) Nature poems predominate, but they are never just word paintings. In HOW NIGHT ARRIVES, darkness is eerily tangible: “It rises from low places/Like a flood/To submerge the garden/The house, the hills/And fill the spaces/Between the stars.” In THE HERON ON THE ROOF, humor and pathos is left implied, as the bird “...notices the front-yard pond/With a pink flamingo/Standing next to it/And perhaps... More > anticipating a comradely encounter/.../Steps into thin air/And glides down to the sidewalk.” In ON A HOT BRIGHT FEBRUARY AFTERNOON, the pond turtles “are sunning themselves on a log/Lined up like senior citizens/In lounge chairs beside a Florida pool./You can almost hear their Aahs! of relief/As their joints begin to unlock in the heat.” A MILLIPEDE is perfectly described as “A parade of one.” In NIGHT MUSIC, comes the sound of crickets “in agonies of longing” singing their versions of ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘Let’s Get it On.’ A few poems feature the poet’s young granddaughter, observed like any creature of nature, as she “stops over and over/To lie in the tall grasses...” From the section CANCER CANTATA (previously a separate volume), the poet now free of cancer but still menaced, ends the poem THE CAT COMES BACK with the only rhymed couplet (in perfect iambic pentameter) in the book: “But not unlike that fabled cat in song/It never stays away for very long.” In HAVING COFFEE WITH THE DEAD, grief for lost friends is treated with wit and self-mockery, and is paradoxically all the more painful: “And they listen/With the same open-hearted/generosity/That was true of them/When they were alive,” “And how about you?” the poet asks, “What’s it like being dead?/To which they invariably reply,/Oh, it’s nothing, really,/nothing at all.” I am grateful for this book and the person I know is behind it.< Less
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Product Details

First Edition
Sycamore Books
October 13, 2018
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.51 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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