New and Selected Poems, 1962-92
Laurence Lieberman is pre-eminent among United States poets for his mastery of the patterned free-form type of verse. His poems have a memorable auditory impact but appeal as much to the eye as to the ear. For example, “The Tilemaker’s Hill Fresco” from EROS AT THE WORLD KITE PAGENT (1983), original in conception, masterful in its natural, lyrical narration, sustains for nine tightly-packed pages an intricate pattern of eleven line verses.
The poem, nevertheless, maintains a fluidity that demonstrates the poet’s complete control of his dauntingly complex stanzaic form. Lieberman never allows his structure, often reminiscent of some of the most successful structured poems of William Blake, to intrude upon his mellifluous narration. He makes no compromises to sustain the complex, often-rigid structures he imposes upon himself.
Lieberman is intrigued by the exotic possibilities that foreign cultures offer poets. His Japanese poems are imbued with the subtle restraint of Japanese art, as is evident in the title poem of GOD’S MEASUREMENTS (1980) and in many of the other poems in that volume. His Caribbean poems in THE MURAL OF WAKEFUL SLEEP (1985) and THE CREOLE MEPHISTOPHELES (1989) capture flawlessly the tempos and temperaments of people in places like Nassau and Haiti.
The present collection reflects Lieberman’s artistic growth and the broadening of subject matter that has accompanied it over three decades. His new verse, particularly the three Tartine poems, demonstrates the author’s continuing quest for fresh subjects to capture with his strong sure voice.