POETRY

The Park

Copper Canyon. May 2020. 82p. ISBN 9781556595950. pap. $17.
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Freeman is a foremost example of that supposedly expired species: the man of letters. He’s a former president of the National Book Critics Circle, former editor of Granta, executive editor of LitHub, editor of the biannual anthology Freeman’s, and an outstanding reviewer; few poets have reviewed as many books as he has. His second book of poetry (after Maps) takes as its central theme the history and disposition of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, using that lovely space to explore how parks as space both natural and carefully constructed can represent the larger world. Like spokes of a wheel, these lyrics, generally brief, address the garden directly and indirectly, obliquely telling its story but also casting light on modern life and modern relationships. Many of the poems are vignettes, often expressing regret at missed chances or lost love: “I am swimming/ in time again,” says the poet in “Between,” and the great city garden proves to be the vehicle for an insightful journey.
VERDICT A fine collection of spare, somber lyrics from an important figure in contemporary writing; with this volume, Freeman steps forward for merited attention as a poet in his own right. [See Barbara Hoffert’s “Versifying,” LJ 1/20.]

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