The University of Iowa

Review: David Rigsbee's School of the Americas

From the Iowa Review: In this volume of thoughtful, reflective, lyric-narrative poems, David Rigsbee's deep psychic engagement with perception, memory, culture, and the politics of human interaction, in all their expansiveness and limitation, is on full display. The poet's sensibility—guided by compassionate reflection and seared by loss—discovers its way forward through the inland waterways of memory to reach for difficult epiphanies. Lyric immediacy alternates with reflective expansiveness and melancholy, and with economy of diction and startling appositions of image and interrogative, Rigsbee breaks open the factual planes—the faits accomplis of events, of names and dates—to re-construe the connections between them. There are poems here that recount, in sinuously rendered anecdote, the scene-stealing exploits of operatically melodramatic poetic mentors ("Shum"); the unwitting cruelties of politically conservative relatives blind to their own presumptions of entitlement ("School of the Americas"); and the egotists of all stripes whom the poet has encountered across the decades ("Heresies of Self-Love," which opens with this bombshell: "I have known more narcissists / than is healthy for a man my age").

Read more