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Gordon Weaver is known well throughout the world of American letters. Since the publication in 1968 of his first novel, Count a Lonely Cadence (produced as a feature film entitled Cadence), Weaver has gone on to publish seven collections of short fiction and three other novels and to edit or co-edit four critical works. His fiction has won O. Henry and Pushcart awards and appeared in many prestigious anthologies, such as Best American Short Stories and Best of the West.Weaver is also a poet of accomplishment, a fact known only by a few editors and by his former students, many of them now successful writers themselves. Though his poems have appeared in numerous well-known journals, such as Southern Review and Colorado Quarterly, he has never released a collection of his poetry.Small Defeats is no small accomplishment. In an age in which anything goes in poetry, Gordon Weaver is a meticulous stylist who is as comfortable with the sestina and sonnet as he is with free-verse. Unlike many of his foggy contemporaries, whose ethereal subject matter leaves readers stumbling in the dark, Weaver writes magically and clearly about remembering his father (in a poem as memorable as Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"), visiting his dying Aunt Eva, bathing his daughter, burying a dog.The poems are the testimony of a man who has come to terms with the life he has lived. As he writes in the title poem, "My chewed-over past is the sour, dull grist / On which, for scant nourishment, I rely, / I am a man untroubled in his mind, / Certain of whatever death I may find".Small Defeats has been a long time coming. It will prove well worth the wait.
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