Synopses & Reviews
Another set of antidotal lyrics and story-poems from Stuart Dischell
Sly, comic, inventive, and exuberant, the brokenhearted lyrics and dark parables of Backwards Days are cast in the spirit and craft Stuart Dischell's poetry is known for. In this, his fourth full-length collection, he revs up both music and experience and writes startling poems of emotional intensity that chronicle the restlessness of desire. Sometimes grim, ever buoyant and hopeful, even in the most sorrowful or macabre situations, the poems of Backwards Days are most particularly about the movement of time, physical movement, and the movement of the heart. Through landscapes both real and of the psyche, they live on the edge of an elusive understanding never quite gotten right.
"Blue-collar heartbreak and terse, hard-won wisdom dominate this vivid fourth outing, in which crowds of men and women try to do 'the basic human thing': Dischell's quiet protagonists traipse riverbanks, promise to 'attend/ The weddings and burials,' and mull the connections between mourning and rejoicing, hope and memory, lust and love. The clever title poem declares the poet's affections in terms drawn from a kindergarten ritual; a surprising pantoum tells a story about 'a blind girl in Paris.' Some of his best works are compressed narratives: 'Tale of the Garret,' for example, updates a familiar fable in order to ask how the airy concerns of the imagination might blind us to the concrete causes for other people's pain. Dischell (Dig Safe) takes his metaphors from all over (anthropologists' 'first contact' with primitive tribes, for example) and his sometimes dysphemistic cadences from such gritty inventors as Charles Simic: his figures of speech may shock ('I went to kiss/ The cat-tongue rough/ Of her each bent knee'), but his core concerns are down-to-earth. Dischell's sometimes gruff (and always brief) poems ask where dejection and affection can manage to keep each other in good company if not for a lifetime, at least for a page or two." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Stuart Dischell's work has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, Partisan Review, and Ploughshares. He has been awarded the Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.