Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2008)
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“The first part of Erica Funkhouser's SURE SHOT comprises 26 lyric poems of surpassing tenderness… The inventiveness and humor of these poems are rare in contemporary poetry. The second part of SURE SHOT consists of poetic monologues that reconsider America through the eyes of three nineteenth-century American women--Sacajawea, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley. These dramatic poems explore both the inner worlds of these three extraordinary women and their responses to the central events of the century in which they lived.”
Funkhouser …shares the virtues of talented essayists (John McPhee, for example), recording and remembering the people and things she discovers in the outside world…”
“We tend to recognize Funkhouser’s huge talents, mustered for and absorbed by the task at hand, in retrospect. Her work is beautifully styled, not stylish. But in the remarkable 15-part middle section, “Pome,” one is immediately struck by her virtuosity. The sequence begins with an empty apple crate: “The longer it basks in the sun, / the more the apple crate appears to fill / with plucked fruit.” The next fourteen sections fill the crate: memories of apple harvest, Johnny Appleseed planting saplings in advance of pioneers, a town edged with salt marshes, Thoreau and Stevens, names of apples, a widow mourns the death of her husband on Bunker Hill, the promise of an appleseed. But this is merely a list. Funkhouser brings all the tools out of her shed to make this series: persona poems, historical narrative, discursive imagination, description and statement, lines breaking all over the page with sudden insights. The “impatience” observed as a fact in the opening poem becomes a hunger to describe a world in “Pome.
Ron Slate - read full review
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