By Campbell McGrath
(Ecco, Paperback, 9780060527365, 112pp.)
Publication Date: February 2003
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Part fable, part diatribe, part elegy, part love song, this extraordinary fifth collection by Campbell McGrath makes poetry of the most unlikely of materials -- his home state of Florida. While at times poignantly personal, McGrath also returns for the first time to the characteristically comic and visionary public voice displayed in the renowned "Bob Hope Poem." Moving effortlessly from prehistory to the space age, he catalogues Florida's natural wonders and historical figureheads, from Ponce de LeÓn to Walt Disney, William Bartram to Chuck E. Cheese -- "the bewhiskered Mephistopheles of ring toss,/the diabolical vampire of our transcendent ideals." In the brilliant sociohistorical monologue of "The Florida Poem," McGrath employs the Fountain of Youth as a mythic symbol for both the tragic consequences of a society built on greed and cultural erasure and the diverse human potential, "which must become the fountain/for any communal future we might dare imagine."
Place-bound and tightly focused, Campbell McGrath's message is nonetheless universal, as his penetrating vision of Florida is also a vision of America -- its history and hopes, failings and fulfillments, and the eternal force that transcends it all.
Campbell McGrath's previous collections are Shannon, Seven Notebooks, Capitalism, American Noise, Spring Comes to Chicago, Road Atlas, Florida Poems, and Pax Atomica. His awards include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. He teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami.
“[Florida Poems] is part Walt Disney, part Old Testament. [McGrath] possesses and displays extraordinary dexterity.”
-Dionisio Martinez, Miami Herald
“Readers who take special pleasure in Billy Collins or in Florida itself will find McGrath’s book something to remember.”
-New York Times Book Review