Cover image for Summers of Vietnam and other poems
Summers of Vietnam and other poems
Kinzie, Mary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y. : Sheep Meadow Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
145 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.I59 S85 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Poems deal with such topics as love, family, prison, God, and death.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This volume is really two books, a magnificent one ("Seasons of Vietnam") about the emotional devastation of those who seek peace, followed by a mannered set of poems ("Masked Women") about art and myth. It is unfortunate that the two are bound together, so weak do the latter poems appear after the brilliance of the earlier. But the 66 pages of Vietnam poems more than redeem the work, telling the wrenching story of a naval officer turned conscientious objector who, imprisoned in solitary for his choice, turns "after swift and concentrated hardships / . . . dry as a winter berry," a man of "lone brokenness." Kinzie's wrenched syntax and adjectival excess, propelled by this stark tale, seem appropriate to its pathos: "An iron and unbreathable disorder / Shone like winter sun on his winter strength," she recalls, lamenting how he was "still there within your grid / Of iron catwalks" even after he was freed. The literature of war must not leave out stories such as this one. --Pat Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kinzie ( The Threshold of the Year ) virtually offers two books in this ample collection. The poems in the first half, ``Seasons of Vietnam,'' are propelled by confident rhythms and her striking persona, the girlfriend of a naval officer who refused to serve in Vietnam. Descriptions of their relationship alternate with glimpses of Portsmouth, N. H., where he has been imprisoned; by turns lyrical and prosaic, the intensity of Kinzie's language sustains her theme even through the section's weaker efforts. The volume's second half, ``Masked Women,'' is less specific in its referents. ``He thrust aside her clothing. / He opened up her flesh, / Broke the nearby mirrors / And shattered all the glass,'' begins ``Modern Love.'' Kinzie gracefully alludes to literature and art, adding a signature eloquence to the formal structures here. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Kinzie's poetry displays the learned allusiveness, formal structures, and imagistic density one associates with American academic verse of the mid-1950s. References to the Classics, painters, and foreign films abound, and in ``The Chanticleer'' the poet actually attempts to fuse memories of Count Basie with bits of Chaucer. Though individual lines can achieve a crystalline precision (``the landscape clear and miniature/ Like painting done on china''), more often the effect is somewhat thick and distant (``transitory emanations/ Precipitated from the laden sky as from excess of charge''). Even the Vietnam of the title is less a place, an event, a catalyst, than an evocation of a murky, dreamlike emotional state from which the narrator seems unable to awaken.-- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Among the many recent books about the Vietnam era, Kinzie's is perhaps the first to focus on the life of a woman who waits for a man--not a soldier on active duty, but an officer confined to solitary at the Portsmouth Naval Prison for refusing to serve. Sitting in a diner after one of her visits to the "facility'/ That looks like a movie lot," she contemplates the popular media image of war resistors: college-age demonstrators hungry for a cause, a slogan to shout. Despite "the voice politic" which now urges us, for the sake of our emotional health, to forget the legacy of that era, Kinzie offers her "ringing words" as a memorial designed "to appall the mind." In the second half of the book, Kinzie pays homage to other artists. She meditates on the human countenance as revealed in the face of Werner Herzog's Kaspar Hauser: uncontrived, flawed, and kind. "Glad Day," a poem in a similar contemplative tone, is about a dim, cloudy morning when "the deep and serious gray behind the sky" allows a city to know "for once its shape and mind." Kinzie's voice is that of a woman who has made her peace with the irrevocable changes that took place in her life during her 20s. Kinzie's poems demand much of a reader--attention to detail and diction, appreciation of stanza forms and metrics, knowledge of art, history, and mythology--but their richly crafted texture invites, sustains, and rewards a careful reader. Appropriate for academic libraries, all levels. M. P. White Mohawk Valley Community College