My People

, Author
Sean Enright
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012

Enright's flexible syntax, and his weaving in and out of impression and meditation, illuminate these sixty-three extraordinary and memorable poems, written over the last twenty-five years. He enacts a double mood of nostalgia and skepticism, where he at once longs for the past and distrusts the powerful images his longing conjures. Enright's honesty toward the past, and his sense of memory as both essential and inadequate, heighten what is already a vivid constant irony. In "The Old Story," a dying father is shaved by his child, and the speaker listens to tales of the past and tempers them with his own desolate perception of approaching loss: "Though time demanded a new tradition, here/The waiting would go on, everyone wanting/Their new life to begin, the saddest life." In "My People," an alphabetical lexicon of the speaker's imagined family lineage since the beginning of time, mock biblical invocations ("so out of Bewilder, Churlish;/out of Dicey, Errant, who begat Fallow") mix with comic historical summaries ("Brutal litho years waited on the shore. Great beasts,/Not my uncles, lumbered through the forests, overeating./ The sense of change was born, and just in time,/But not for my people, scholars of the Mud and the Stick.")

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