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Patrick James Dunagan Reviews Arcadia Road, a Celebration of Homesteading

By Harriet Staff

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Patrick James Dunagan reviews Thorpe Moeckel’s Arcadia Road (Etruscan Press, 2015), a trilogy of long poems that Dunagan calls a “celebration of DIY homesteading.” “This triadic long poem unfurls in nearly 200 pages of open-ended couplets of tangentially propelled rhythm expressing the joy Moeckel finds in maintenance of a household based upon principles not generally widespread throughout contemporary consumer culture.” More from the Rumpus:

While never outright rejecting city life or the modern world, Moeckel stirringly questions the efficacy of allurements found within daily mainstream reality, the “crapstorm // of media, opinions, banter, ballyhoo, art, / money, politics, fast cars, the old in/out // yearning & naught – so much barking, / humdingering” yet he acknowledges them “so tasty, these bedevilments.” It’s refreshing to read new poetry which manages remain contemporary and forward-looking in terms of its spry playfulness with language while yet bucking current hipster trends found in urbane poet-villas from Oakland to Brooklyn. This is a path few others are treading. Where precursor-poets do pop to mind, say Gary Snyder or Wendell Berry, perhaps A.R. Ammons or Ted Hughes, Moeckel’s frolicsome whimsy and near lackadaisical concern for imparting any sort of “heavy message” separates his work out from theirs in unexpected ways.

Moeckel doesn’t balk at acknowledging how hokey some of his reflections may be judged in today’s heavily ironic, self-consciously aware climate: “I know it’s quaint / to say that cutting fresh meat is a journey that takes me / as far into the woods in the life of the deer as any walk”. He readily expresses his own discomfort with the overly sentimental or personal anecdote, welcoming the opportunity to address the reader’s reaction as well as his own: “I hope you’re wriggling, I’m wriggling”.

Moeckel currently serves as director of the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University. For ten years, Thorpe and his family worked a small farm near the Upper James River in Western Virginia. Please read the full review of Arcadia Road at the Rumpus.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, January 5th, 2017 by Harriet Staff.