Lewis Turco's poems get better, book after book. The Weed Garden … is Turco's best. The finest of the twenty-one syllabic poems here are almost as good as anything new I have read in years. But these poems have an elusive and cryptic profundity; to understand them it is first necessary, unfortunately, to understand some of the weaknesses in Turco's work. A good deal of the best poetry of our century is syllabic…. The success of these poems depends in part, I believe, upon the fusion of innovations of rhythmic perception with the almost inherent characteristics of English iambic tendency, stopped lines, rime and off-rime. Turco's practice is looser. It resembles the work of Marianne Moore, and it verges easily into slackness and dullness. As with Moore, Turco's virtues are often not in rhythm…. (pp. 286-87)
In addition, Turco is something of an ornamentalist. He plays with obsolete and invented words: "A twilleter fuzzes/against a burning lamp." And he is given to silly and exasperating puns. In "Mary Moody Emerson R.I.P.," "Ralph Waldo/shrugged and put down to whim this/relative moodiness." This is, doubtless, a love and delight of language, but I confess I find it a waste of time and talent…. [These qualities of Turco's poems] are the junk of experience, done when there is nothing else to do.
Turco's characteristic procedure is built in part, but finally improves, upon these habits. His poems are laid...
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