Mockingbird (Derek Webster)

Derek Webster's Mockingbird examines a death of another sort, with many of the poems tracing the aftermath of a failed marriage. Even vaguer poems, that don't seem to address this issue, feel loaded against its backdrop: “Libraries burn. / What we thought would last is gone.”

However, the best poems call up other poets — like the mockingbird of his title, Webster has an astounding facility for mimicry, even producing a pitch-perfect Emily Dickinson poem: “My life was mine—an uncut book— / Shelved until the day / A reader passed—and snagged— / And carried me away.”

The poem “Zombies” feels like a poem by Rainier Maria Rilke, and ends “I'm a hawk in some old tapestry / eyeing the bodies below my tree.”

“Outside the dream / someone knifes the dreamer,” ends a poem called “Ted Hughes” — Webster's debut offers an astounding range of poems and displays incredible skill.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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