Monday, April 23, 2007

National Poetry Month Recommendation: Campbell McGrath

I'm fond of the Italian writer Italo Calvino. I like his novels. I like his collections of short poetic prose pieces. Great stuff, all around.

When I read the first section of Campbell McGrath's Florida Poems, it reminded me of Calvino's Invisible Cities.

The section, called "Flora & Fauna." And then it seems to have a subtitle: "A City in the Clouds." The section is a suite of poems about a city in the clouds, a city with slaves, birds, and alligators. And people. And advertising. And Happy Meals one Sunday a month.

This is the first three stanzas of a poem called "The Last Days":

The last days of the city in the clouds were in many ways
like those that had gone before: each morning
the sun rose from beneath them
in a corona of atmospheric fire; each night
it slipped beneath the velvet omphalos of the horizon.

But as the raw and fragile tissue of the clouds
was sucked into the maw of the unresting pumps
not only did the outlying regions diminish
but the fundamental clouds of the city grew ever thinner,
and as they thinned they rose to a greater height,
and the cold wind of the jetstream assailed them
in their lattice dwellings built for gentler climes.

Things were lost: bottles, alarm clocks, cases of rifle shells

It's Campbell McGrath's imaginative power that draws me to him. It's his specificity of language that keeps me reading.


  1. Thanks for this. He certainly takes unexpected turns while continuing to holding fast and tight to a theme - giving a very kind of calculated surrealism - like a well-trained long-jumper. Fun stuff.

  2. Omphalos umped a loss. I like fragile tissue rhyming fundamental though, Stanza 2.

    The Hood Company


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