Of Time and the River

It is fitting that two of these outstanding volumes of poetry (Taylor's and Weider's) gather work from over 20 years of the poets' respective careers; fitting because all three collections exhibit a concern for the passage of time, both its destructive power and its capacity to inspire wisdom and love. In contrast to poets who pour forth prose masquerading as verse—work so solipsistic as to be virtually meaningless—and poems hobbled to a political (predominately leftist) agenda, these three poets whose concern is to capture the human condition in words and forms of lasting beauty have produced some of the best that contemporary poetry has to offer.

James Applewhite's new collection reflects his home state of North Carolina and is laced with stories of local inhabitants past and present, their trials and joys. A sense of history informs many of these pieces, such as "Among Names of My Fathers," in which Applewhite meditates in the family burial ground on the vicissitudes of time; however, it is a history that seems remote. A "dark identity" connects the poet with his ancestors, men whose lives seem "fabulous" to him. Yet even as he disapproves of certain aspects of their lives (e.g., their owning slaves), he also sees himself as one with them, both in his genetic heritage and in his common mortality. "Making Tobacco Money" looks at the past and celebrates the hard...

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