NONFICTION

Scribbled in the Dark

Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9780062661173. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062661197. POETRY
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OrangeReviewStarPulitzer Prize winner, MacArthur fellow, and 2007 poet laureate of the United States, Simic (The Monster Loves His Labyrinth) is one of America's most celebrated poets, yet he remains, paradoxically, a kind of visitor or stranger to this country and language. Raised in war-torn Yugoslavia, he came to the United States as an adolescent with a vivid sense of the extent of human brutality and venality. The world that his poems inhabit is a sad, autumnal, estranged affair; his lyric style firmly established with 1967's What the Grass Says, with its terse, gnomic lines, controlled or deflected emotion with dabs of surrealistic color and image. Given Simic's productivity (this is his 27th book of new poems), it is to be expected that he will have long since worked through his most urgent material, and indeed some of the poems here are slight, the diary musings of a practiced and habitual poet. However, his voice is so distinct that even a lesser collection has merit, and on occasion, he rises to the condition of his best earlier work, as in the disquieting "The Infinite": "The infinite yawns and keeps yawning./ …Does it find us good to eat?"
VERDICT Highly recommended.

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