By Richard Wakefield
Richard Wakefield’s third collection of poetry, Terminal Park, bears truthful and often wryly humorous witness to a wide range of human experience. His portraits of life in rural Washington State are particularly compelling, in a way that evokes the best of Frost without sacrificing Wakefield's own distinctive voice. A showcase of given and nonce forms, Terminal Park is the work of a master craftsman, delivered with wit, empathy, and grace.
Richard Wakefield's Terminal Park is a triumph from a master of formal poetry with a bit of a Zen streak. Alternately wistful, wry, and joyous, Wakefield takes on a wide range of subjects without anger or rhetoric. My favorites were the many elegiac landscape poems, which reminded me of the some of the best poems of Robert Frost.
—A.M. Juster, author of Wonder and Wrath
This new volume reveals a poet whose mastery of form will amaze readers. Richard Wakefield lives deeply in his world, past and present, touching and feeling everything that surrounds him, alert to every texture, “the grain of wood, the grit of sand.” He scans memory, repossessing luminous and sometimes uncanny moments from his past. A poem is, of course, a system of linked sounds, and Wakefield’s ear never misses the chance for a linking echo. In fact, I love the internal and external rhyming here, done without flash, with a kind of holy decorum. The seasons course through these poems, in literal and figurative flight, but the poet asserts with good reason that “an old man at his kitchen window sees / by winter light.” And it’s the clarity of winter light that makes these poems shimmer. I will return to the pages of Terminal Park again to revel in their wisdom and grace notes.
—Jay Parini, author of New and Collected Poems: 1975–2015
Terminal Park ranges widely and dives deep. The book’s opening lines, where bleak subject matter is conveyed by lilting verse, tell us a lot about what will follow: “‘Terminal Park’ reads the vine-covered sign / where junkies and drunks reach the end of the line.” The poet’s mastery is evident throughout, whether depicting desolate rural vignettes, or vividly rendered moments of Biblical, literary, or personal history. Though many poems seem haunted by entropy, decay, suffering, and loss—“The Work of Darkness”—they are leavened by stoicism and humor. Beautifully organized and reflecting a lifetime’s hard-won wisdom, the collection as a whole is not merely enjoyable. It is exhilarating.
—Bruce Bennett, author of Just Another Day in Just Our Town
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