Ronald Wise's Reviews > Gulf Music: Poems

Gulf Music by Robert Pinsky
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's review
Jul 23, 11

Read from December 29 to 30, 2010, read count: 1

This a collection of about four dozen short poems published in 2007, which seem to have been written since his last published collection in 1998. I found none to be very memorable, though from nearly all I experienced some curiosity or enjoyment. Perhaps my expectations for this collection were too high, as I had just completed Pinsky's An Explanation of America (1997), by which I was very touched and impressed.

There are many references to the events and public dialog of the early 2000s, especially the events of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the ensuing public reactions to both. But these references are in most cases among references to similar, but far older events, as though suggesting an current over-reaction for lack of historical perspective, and indeed the act of forgetting is another subject that crops up numerous times in this collection.

The book begins with "Poem of Disconnected Parts" - three pages of couplets, many of which I suspect were sparked by news items or quotes in the media. Some of these contained an ironic twist within the pair, while with others the irony was revealed by a later couplet, or even a subsequent poem. I found this poem to set well the tone for the rest of the collection.

The collection is divided into three sections. In the first were poems more related to historical and current events. Those in the third seemed more related to human symbols and their use. The second section began with an interesting etymological study of the word "thing", followed by poems exploring descriptions of, and sentiments linked to some common things.

The poet's "Note" at the end of the book was helpful in clarifying the basis or intent of some of the poems.

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