Middle Passage

Middle Passage

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Paul Metcalf has a metronome inside himself, somewhere in those ever-present but rarely approached places that enfold the guts of The Body America.  That metronome picks up a certain pulse - sometimes following the beat, sometimes  its counterpoint.  It smashes the new fangled looms of Industrial England and runs the course of slave-ships infested with smallpox, shit & lechery; it clocks the coupling of sperm whales at sea.

With The Middle Passage, we need a blurb saying: "I have written a dark book, etc., etc."  And what a coal-hole!  An unbearable blackness at times: he makes it possible by keeping the beat.  The time he takes taps out the passion & dispassion of the textbook and the poem as they submit one to the other in turn.  That hope - the old cliche commands us to abandon when entering such places - moves like a virus all throughout this, The Middle Passage.