From its haunted opening to the complex affirmation of its final lines, this profound collection by Dabney Stuart presents a palimpsest of the spirit in the modern age. With jagged syncopations, lyrical stop-time, and a kind of elegiac swing, these poems spiral through multiple dimensions of time, memory, and emotion—from post-World War II America to the South Pacific-evoking perspectives of the psyche as brooding and cryptic as the Antarctic.
Long Gone nimbly weaves carnal and familial love, the search for lost innocence, and the epistemology of memory into moments of hallucinatory focus where insight comes—and goes—like light on water. In “Double Exposures” a photograph of a child and grandmother reveals the slowly accreting carapace of history, memory, and habit—that cast of ourselves—that might seal us off from the purity of our beginnings.
Yet for this speaker even to guess at that unnameable beginning is in itself an illumination—one that leads to an instant of faith in the progress of our spirits and their ultimate “implausible flight.”
Long Gone is a troubling, spellbinding collection by a poet at the height of his powers; in it, readers encountering Dabney Stuart for the first time as well as those familiar with his other books of poetry and fiction will find cause to celebrate.
Dabney Stuart, professor of English at Washington and Lee University, is the editor of Shenandoah. He is the author of eight books of poetry, including Common Ground, Don’t Look Back, and Narcissus Dreaming, as well as a book of criticism on Nabokov. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, the Southern Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications. Stuart has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship.
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