Barry Spacks Greg Kuzma - Essay

Greg Kuzma

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Barry Spacks's] poems are about things the readers of this journal are themselves familiar with: students, jury duty, washing windows, books, poetry. Not only are the poems about these things, they are faithful to them. Spacks rarely tries to force the natural range of his subjects into uncomfortable reaches toward soul or essence. So these poems confirm the validity of Spacks's common but difficult life.

There is a good deal of structure to the poems, but instead of lending the poems an artificial quality the structure gives the poems additional grace. They are refreshing in times when much young American poetry delights in secret principles of organization, mysterious "deep images," confusion of line length and the abolishment of meaningful stanzaic patterning. One could say that Mr. Spacks is a gentleman; he will never leave the reader uncomfortable or embarrassed or clutching for orientation. He is consistent, solid, and responsible.

Nevertheless, the impression which Mr. Spacks has and makes of the world, that of a quaint and dusty, if sometimes chaotic, workshop, suggests perhaps a casualness too specialized for some of the profoundly awful events of modern life. In places he sounds like Frost; he has Frost's soundness and optimism—but not much of his other sides. One's initial response is that Spacks needs to deepen, perhaps to have something happen to him that pulls at the tightness of his vision. At times...

(The entire section is 408 words.)