This week finds me in the throes of reading Joshua Mehigan's 2004 collection, The Optimist. There's a lot of excellent stuff throughout the book, but I'm particularly drawn to a poem titled The Festival. It very much reminds me of Larkin's Show Saturday. Both are specific to their place and time, and both strike an authentic note. Larkin homes in on...
"...mugfaced, middleaged wives
Glaring at jellies, husbands on leave from the garden
Watchful as weasels..."
Mehigan, meanwhile, captures a very similar yet very different dynamic as follows:
"From beer, they swayed like corn in rows.
They unfixed stares to wink at wives
whose dead eyes double-crossed their smiles."
An implicit dialogue between the two poets and two societies is certainly enriching my reading. I'm now looking forward to Mehigan's new collection in 2013.
It is rare indeed nowadays to encounter a poetry collection which exudes the traditional values of the art form. This is such a book: it displays an effort...