The Morning of the Red Admirals (Paperback) Review

The Morning of the Red AdmiralsThere are some nice images and common threads throughout these poems.The image of the Red Admiral butterfly flutters through, starting with the titled poem, through the reflections/essays "In Panama" and in the section on ten thousand wing beats.There are occasional church references, as the "Church of the Last years fallen leaves" the "Church of Doubting Thomas", a synod of crows, and a light redeeming the woods. Light and illumination also bends across the poems with a "silver hour", or days in November "the color and heft of lead", and the "bendable light" of the poem Koan. Dana takes risks with the poems, as he tries to "push past himself" into different styles of thought.The final section of the book marks his departure, perhaps emulating the red admiral butterfly, constantly improvising its strokes. Many of these newer poems work but some seem "confounding" as the cover jacket states.

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Dana employs an astonishing range of poetic strategies to describe the pleasure and pain of this fraught moment in our history. And just as the brightly colored butterfly animates these pages, now lighting on a domestic scene, now flitting through a meditation on the nature of poetry, so Dana steps lightly "down some moonless fractal, wild refraction, unpredictable reflection." His clarity of vision and economy of means enact an exuberant encounter with the world; his vivid reading of his walk in the sun- "Alive on the breath-edge of metaphor"- is at once bracing and wise. Robert Dana is a magnificent poet.
- Christopher MerrillIn this, his tenth collection of poems, Robert Dana surprises, delights, and may even momentarily confound his readers with this ambitious book which is, above all, a work of transformations. "Heaven is here, not there"- Dana says, and these poems invite us to "Dance ... down this senseless, bright dingle of commingling and delicious confusions" so that we, too, can say, with the poet, "Every day I live I live forever."- Richard Holinger

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