In his seventh book of verse, Reginald Gibbons ponders human consciousness and memory, the blessedness of human love, and the force and fury of human destructiveness. By turns intimate, imaginatively historical, and deeply engaged in the paradoxes of language itself, It’s Time belongs to that genealogy of poetry that registers ideas as much as it does feelings.
Gibbons’s short poems portray a sense of wonder at the extraordinary ordinariness of life and the seemingly infinite complexities of identity. With intense feeling, he explores a metaphysical and philosophical vertigo, and with a quickness of thought, he ponders human feeling, experience, and perception. His occasions span celebrations, elegies, and dramatic monologues. In longer poems he uses the ancient Greeks as a trope for the complicated survival and shaping influence of the past on our attitudes and acts today.
From free verse to subtle regularities of metrical or syllabic verse, from discursive arguments to surreal images, Gibbons’s technical range is startling. The poems he collects in It’s Time are profoundly thought through, immensely moving, and entirely indispensable.
I praise the gesture of a generous hand
that smooths unequal wrongs into an equal peace,
that would turn the cost of a military aileron
into ivy and guitar strings and terraces of rice.
I praise the kiss, the bowing, the word, that mark
an instant of human time defined by loving.
I celebrate your reluctance to think of harm.
Praise the thought, the reasoning,
the prayer, too, and the tragic play
that portrays the destroyer and does not destroy
Selection from “Poem Including History” published in It’s Time by Reginald Gibbons. Copyright © 2002 by Reginald Gibbons. All rights reserved.
Reginald Gibbons is the author of seven previous volumes of poetry, translations of Spanish and Mexican poetry and ancient Greek tragedy, a short story collection, and a novel, and he served as editor of TriQuarterly from 1981 to 1997. He has won the O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and other honors. A native of Texas, he now lives in Evanston, Illinois, where he is a professor of English and classics at Northwestern University.
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