The Man Who Loves Cézanne, a quiet but authoritative new collection from Dabney Stuart, blends a variety of landscapes, themes, forms, and tones. The poems vary in subject — World War II, browsing library stacks, a family reunion, sky diving, a visit to a museum, and cancer, among other topics — and are arranged to suggest a gradual acceptance of the unavoidable vicissitudes, frictions, and griefs of human life.
With allusions to writers ranging from Shakespeare to Jung, and settings such as the southwestern desert of the United States, the volume reflects an overarching concern for art, both poetic and visual, and the untoward, difficult commitment of the life of the artist. The Man Who Loves Cézanne is a delicate mingling of traditional and more open forms, creating a tension that is always attractive and often powerfully moving.
He imagined a room in a spare hotel,
with a balcony giving onto a street
lined every day with flowers for Easter.
The woman who kept them fresh
arrived before dawn, her body an inference
he drew from motion under the thick array
of lilies, pentstemons, and bee-balm she carried.
He imagined her strewing the wilted ones
in the desert for the wind to scatter,
some settling among the ruins of farmhouses
before they dried into the dust surrounding.
From “Traveling Light ” published in The Man Who Loves Cézanne: Poems by Dabney Stuart. Copyright © 2003 by Dabney Stuart. All rights reserved.
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.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.