America Abroad: An Epic of Discovery
America Abroad is an amazing achievement. David Radavich offers an entertaining history of the republic in light-footed poetry. It’s a wonderful gift. There are heroes galore, both male and female, but Uncle Sam and his consort, Ms. Liberty, dominate the narrative: Smug, calm, and full of selfish drive, he brushes off her protests. Feeling jilted, she laments, “We’re still not together.” Their squabbles mirror those of the nation; if they were to divorce, it would lose its soul.
America Abroad is part adventure story and part history told in crisp narrative poems rich in searing imagery. In these poems, David Radavich explores America’s complex history of discovery, destruction, and quest for power. With the keen eye of an historian and the heart and ear of a poet, Radavich uses a myriad of voices, from Ponce de Leon to Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty to explore America’s adventurism with clear-eyed honesty. These poems deliver on the promise that “If you listen hard, / in the end you will be changed.”
David Radavich’s America Abroad is vastly imaginative: pastiche; caprice; cameos by Ponce de Leon, Coronado, Sacajewea, Leif Ericsson, Betsy Ross, as well as other historic luminaries; and orchestrated by a truncated, nimble line, with brilliant musical enjambment that puts me in mind of Robert Creeley. The language is wonderfully elastic, accommodating, witty—what an ear Radavich has—but also of epic vision, “Protean / beyond all reckoning,” as the speaker declares so aptly in the poem, “Shape-Shifter.” And, indeed, these poems do shape-sift, holographic not only in their stunning wordplay, but in their vision and wry social commentary. This is a very fine volume of poems.
116 pages, $15.95
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