NONFICTION

Maps

Copper Canyon. Oct. 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781556595233. pap. $17. POETRY
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In his debut collection, critic/editor Freeman is at his best when he is less self-consciously purposeful and engaging; the spare language working to higher purpose. For example, in "The Boy Under the Car": "That night in Damascus/ her job was to put/ tea and cake,/ a sprig of mint,/ on a silver tray/ and walk down/ the crushed-pebble drive/ to the boy paid/ to sleep under the car." In sure strokes, Freeman delivers a world unique unto itself; the place name integral to the narrative; and his narrator a clear-eyed observer. In other poems, the poet is a more restless companion, a "Where's Waldo" figure moving from place to place, more given to gazing inward than fixing readers in time and space. As he writes in "Lacking Measures," I have been here forty days and most nights as/ the air thins/ to evening chills and the cold white lozenge of/ the moon licks/ the sky white round its edges, I try to/ understand/ why I have put myself in a place where all I can/ do is watch myself/ think. And then think about that thought."
VERDICT Readers will largely be rewarded in Freeman's company, wherever the road takes him.

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