Prairie Style, C. S. Giscombe (Flood Editions, 2008)
Cecil Giscombe & I go way, way back – too far back, it seems these days – to when he was a whole lot younger than I am now. I knew his daughter when she was a prelingual toddler (there's a poem dedicated to her in Anarchy); now she's graduated from college. His poetry just gets better and better, as he works steadily & slowly (Prairie Style is only his 4th collection), but more & more perfectly. The African diaspora across the Great Plains, with conceptual side trips to Canada & Jamaica. Foxes & trains, both of them quick, intelligent, & indigenous. A soft, persistent, imperative, ironical voice, telling a tale of the tribe; but more specifically telling – as has always been Giscombe's obsession – telling the phenomenology of particular places. CSG is to the midwest what Stevens was to Key West, Bishop to an American's Brazil, Olson to Goucester. (Olson, frankly, is the only direct influence on Giscombe of those three hat-plucked names.) The only thing I miss here, in these beautifully sculpted, eye-brow raised prose poems, is CSG's peerless sense of the line.