Cardinals In The Ice Age

This collection, Engels’s sixth, was chosen by Philip Levine as one of five winners of the National Poetry Series. One has to admire any poet who, in this day and age, can still be so moved by nature that he is “put next to tears” because “some scarlet maples on the hill/ were muted to pink by a mist.” Yet Engels’s sharp eye for the natural world does not keep him from dealing with less uplifting events. Dead dogs, men held hostage, and the Revolutionary Museum at Ljubljana are all subject to his scrutiny, and everything he takes in becomes another symbol of the preciousness of life. Still, for all the aesthetic value of their subjects, the lines and rhythms of these poems are disconcertingly prosaic, with archaic grammar chopped into uniform stanza breaks. Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, “Soho Weekly News,” New York

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Selected by

Philip Levine