Rumored Islands
Robert Farnsworth

Harbor Mountain Press, 2010
ISBN 9780981556031
Poetry, 5″x8″, 88 pp., paperback

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More than 20 years after his last book, Farnsworth (Honest Water) returns with poems of wonder and shame, loneliness and “the strange, sun-spun fabric of the world.” In carefully sculpted lines, alternately lyrical and narrative, cultured and stripped down, he offers poems that arrive unannounced and track the unexpected turns life takes, the way an unanticipated moment can become part of a story we were meant to hear. He captures the long sigh of a stoplight, thoughts from Westminster Bridge, finding someone drowned staring up from the bottom of a pond, and the complicated distances and intimacies of family life—fathers and sons, husbands and wives—with grace and muscular music. Farnsworth knows his way around a stanza and is capable of lines that both surprise and seem inevitable, whether he’s “full of the melancholy/ pleasure of being far away from home” or stating that “The past should always be/ this allusive gift.” Near the end of the book comes “At Sea,” a tender, restrained and stunning poem in which, four years after his father’s death, Farnsworth begins to find him. Rather than ask forgiveness—presumably for the many unnamed separations between a father and a son—the writer acknowledges, “I recognize the things I know that you’d have loved.”

Publishers Weekly Starred Review