Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Hollow Log Lounge

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Hollow Log Lounge

Article excerpt

POETRY

Hollow Log Lounge, by R. T. Smith. Illinois, September 2003. $29.95 cloth, $14.95 paper

The blurbs on this book draw parallels to Edwin Arlington Robinson and Edgar Lee Masters, but both of those poets risked parody with their aw-shucks sentimentality for small-town life and lexicon. The voices in Smith's poems (all set in an Opelika, Alabama, dive named for its "den dark and a stuffed / fox snarling over the bar") are too wise for that kind of easy nostalgia-and too steeped in the language of place to ever be dreamed up by an outsider. On Bluegrass Night a "Goshen oldster" steps out to dance: "Pivot and crossover, he bucks / the wing, his body stiff / but feet in time with 'Sugar / Hill,' as his friends step back / to let him shine." Smith never allows this local language to lapse into what one of his characters labels "twang chic." Even college professors are eager "to sound authentic, to drop the terminal / r and double the syllables" to achieve "hick bliss tinged with mimosa scent / and pig lots, Tuberose, greens. …

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