Books

The Hurt that makes a Poet

The Land I Came Through Last: A Family Memoir,  by Robert Gray; Giramondo, 2008, 448 pages, $34.95. In just a few lines of Robert Gray’s poem “Diptych” he summons an immediate visual impression of the man he grew up with: “my father only seemed to care that he would never appear a drunkard / while ever his shoes were clean”. That poem, with its irregular long lines and striking imagery, is a double portrait of each of the writer’s parents; it brings two mismatched characters to life through anecdotes and brief quotations, and in its way tells the reader everything…

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