As If

Using the images of a gray late autumn, Richardson’s previous collection ( Reservations , Princeton Univ. Pr., 1977) expressed the self-disillusionment that accompanies a growing awareness of mortality. Continuing that theme, this melancholy yet richly crafted collection is reminiscent of Wallace Stevens’s shorter poems but lacks his acceptance of death as part of the natural cycle of life. Still, the sincerity and often brutal honesty with which the poet examines his life is compelling: “That was my life/ To lie and make the lie true.” A “Song for Kate,” the most optimistic poem in the collection, is a beautiful tribute to the salvation found in the love of one’s child. For large poetry collections.

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Selected by

Amy Clampitt