86 pages perfectbound
Stephen Vincent’s work here preserves and enhances the ancient association of the foot as measure of the poetic line. In Walking Theory measure becomes metaphor: “...foot ever to the ground, image by image, /thought by thought, word by word...” This is the measure of the continuity of a poet’s life as he moves through the days, from the grief-stricken rhythms of the opening section of elegies to the more expansive tours of the San Francisco neighborhoods where he lives and works. Vincent celebrates the beauty of these familiar landscapes, as well as strange, unexpected and sometimes mundane details. In a wonderful pun that arises in the midst of the naming of spring flowers, “the dotted eye” suggests the I of linguistic convention as the seeing, moving body’s eye transformed by language.
- Beverly Dahlen
At long last is Walking Theory, Stephen Vincent’s observant, large-hearted poems bundled into book form, engaging architecture, people on the move, the seasons and other transience, the talk that binds the day: Goodbye, rhetoric, the desperate,/what can the poem do, walking, step-by-step:/witness, suffer, hope. Urbane and companionable, rare virtues flaunted here, curbside delight.
- Bill Berkson
What better measure for poetry, what better metric, what better rhythm and attention to time and place, what more reliable foot possible than poems built upon walks. Routes of the familiar re-viewed and re-incarnated. Place become word. A life lived walking in San Francisco, a poetry compassionate and independent, the scene as seen: “STEAL BACK YOUR LIFE / stenciled in big black letters on the sidewalk.” At times elegiac – for the dead in Iraq, for the poet’s father, for friends – at times celebratory through a kind of slowly emerging ecstasy even in the face of a painfully demanding city: “the heart/ let loose among buildings without trees,/ the lobbies of the dead, people who lean/ variously to struggle with reason against/ an architecture born deadly.” So “what can the poem do, walking, step-by-step: witness, suffer, hope.”
- Hank Lazer, Exquisite Corpse