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September 02 , 2008

A Better Life


The world of John McAuliffe’s ?rst book is surprisingly populous, even social. The poems are grounded in speech and conversation and are consistently alert to that moment when one thing changes into another and to how a phrase clari?es into unexpected meaning, ‘seeing different things in the same light’. ‘His book is every bit as good as I hoped it would be. McAuliffe’s got the gift. Mark the name. His sure hand is apparent in every line: syntax and pulse in the service of experience. This poet’s sense of shape and design provides structures that highlight his felicities of movement, texture and observation. No cheap ?ourishes, no ingratiating mannerisms, just the real stuff, hard-won, handsomely brought off. This guy’s the total package, as we say over here about our young, star athletes.’ - August Kleinzahler

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