Little Star

Mark Halliday’s first book of poems explores the possibilities for poetry of a conversational discursive voice: How much of the mystery of contemporary experience can be expressed by a poem that maintains the diction and rhythms of natural speech? This problem, the history of which reaches back to Wordsworth and beyond, is boldly engaged in Little Star. The poems take up troubling emotions and issues–the temptations of nostalgia, the relation between lust and love, the individual’s fear of obscurity and insignificance, the yearnig to rescue experience from change by means of art, the sense that “your happiness contains the seeds of your sorrow”–and show the speaker struggling, as if thinking aloud in an excited monologue or tense debate or painful reminiscence, to find some new clarity, some new way of grasping the problem,. The influence of the poetry of Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch will be apparent in the insouciance, self-deprecating humor, and autobiographical candor of Little Star. Yet Halliday’s style is his own. It will disturb poetic formalists and charm the open-minded. (from dust jacket) (less)

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Selected by

Heather McHugh