The general theme of this book, and a number of its individual poems, is that love and language create community. There is little self- reference and confession. Set in Gloucester, New York, or Paris, in Panama or Newtown, the poems come from a commitment to civic poetry, a poetry of social place and witness. Civic poetry is poems written for the public on community topics; poetry accessible to an attentive, general audience. And since it is often meant to be read in public, civic poetry relies on sound and familiar forms: rhyming tricks, assonance, consonance, regular rhythms, refrain and stanza, couplets, etc. And of course, civic poetry, like all poetry, is insightful, well-crafted and fresh, never talks down, and is never watered down.
Besides accessibility, sound, rhythm, and freshness, there is another necessary ingredient in civic poetry: hope. Not innocent or immature hope, nothing naive. It may be a battered hope, even diminished, but is not cowed or faint, remains brassy, unabashed. Civic poetry makes no apologies for believing in our stressed and distorted, but wonderful national experiment.