David Biespiel's energetic language, so varied and musical and precise, is quite unmatched by that of other contemporary poets. The Book of Men and Women is his second collection in the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series, and as always he is the master of the long line, his words strung across its reach as tightly as beads. But new poems in this book explore the intimacies of the shorter line as well and display Biespiel's formal inventiveness and emotional range.
The Book of Men and Women addresses our time and human condition in ways both domestic and global. The first section of the book is filled with the wonderful agitation of spell-making language. The poems are connected to the social and historical world, and yet at the same time, they prepare us for the mythic story about men and women that is promised in the book's title. The second section is more formally restrained and as such imbues the speaker with the distinction and melancholy gravitas that characterize the collection. We see this in the remarkable and fully imagined tour de force, "William Clark's Sonnets."
The book concludes with a series of autobiographical poems that confront the frailties of love and desire with unflinching intimacy and gratitude. These last poems, composed during an intense three-month period of writing, as well as the other poems in this remarkable volume, showcase Biespiel at the very top of his form.