Go Giants

Norton. 2013. 70p. ISBN 9780393347449. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393347692. POETRY
The title of this newest collection from Laird (To a Fault; On Purpose) sets the book's tone, which never rises above trope long enough to leave a unique imprint in the soft clay of contemporary poetry. Laird is a talented formalist as many poems attest, including "Epithalamium" and "Grace and the Chilcot Inquiry." He is also completely capable of working in other styles—narrative and light verse, for example—with competence. Despite Laird's technical dexterity, though, this work is just not that interesting. The speakers try to be clever, and the result is trying on the reader. Consider the opening stanza from "History of the Sonnet": "Ten./ Nine./ Eight./ I was watching you from over there and I've got to say I think you're great." Poet Billy Collins lampooned the sonnet a decade ago and with a more precise comedic touch. Consider, too, the opening line of "Spree": "The gardener mown down. The typist erased."
VERDICT Readers looking for recent collections with humor and formal deftness should look elsewhere: Natalie Shapero's No Object, for example, or Craig Morgan Teicher's To Keep Love Blurry.
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