"I Hear You Calling". (from "New York Sonnets"). Upturned, her face demanded that mine be truthful - gambit reversed. The porch of an uptown church framed her cowl, towering wreckage by a tower whose door hung bolted. From some ripe depth came her hoarse blessing, then the aperture shut once more, creases near her eyes as deltas fanning to gulfs across a mind, a world. Alms, alma, trauma, tremendum, lorn, learn: what book binds their leaves? Not the boulevardier's album of glancing encounters. Daughter of disasters curling wholly inward, nestle thy babe, your rotting shawl hanging lank, let the hot wind billow it soprano, though not for thee such releases just yet, not here, not now. In a country where much of the prominent poetry seeks to affirm the fleeting present and its changing values, John Peck's poetry comes as an important, if unlikely, gift. Peck's verse deals the cards of the fragmentary, ideogramic, juxtapositional, and elliptical through the deck of normally discursive syntax. Echoing late high Modernism, Peck's work, in the words of novelist Joseph McElroy, is "a way of seeing things," confident "in the packed vividness of the referential."
Avoiding the narrow identity - or group-specific viewpoint of some of his contemporaries, Peck invites us to enter the larger humanscape and unearth with him unnoticed connections to our shared past and to one another. In "Contradance", his ninth collection, Peck's passion for inquiry and historical reflection has never been stronger or more beautifully embodied.