The Burnt Pages
Prominent among the themes of THE BURNT PAGES is the author’s awareness of transition. He views his arrival in New York City as a transition from one culture to another. His sense of the United states is of a country in a transitional state. The limited access provided by the poems to the poet’s emotional life reveals his experience of the transitory nature of personal relationships.
A major emphasis throughout THE BURNT PAGES is on the exemplary power of history. In what emerge as the volume’s most accessible and most intriguing poems, parallels are drawn between life in the contemporary United States and life in the Byzantine empire. These parallels include a view of New York City as Constantinople, and hint at the tyranny, corruption, and uncertainty which occurs endemically at the end of empire.
The poems are written in a modern, allusive, intellectually sophisticated style which shows the influence of contemporary American poetry, in particular that of John Ashbery. Thinking of its effects in terms of the unpredictable yet formal surfaces of contemporary painting, on which John Ash has written widely, is also helpful in approaching these complicated enactments of estrangement and recuperation.
Sources for Further Study
Chicago Tribune. January 12, 1992, XIV, p. 5.
The Washington Post Book World. XXII, January 19, 1992, p. 8.