Off-Season in the Promised Land

Peter Makuck gives himself to the world outside himself; the ‘I’ that speaks in his quiet and carefully made poems is an ‘I’ that lives in relation to tidal estuaries, to marsh grass and kestrels, to herons and owls; and it is an ‘I’ that finds its identity in friends and family, in teachers and neighbors and the communities in which we make our lives, trying, as Ben Jonson said we must, to ‘dwell’ rather than simply to build and acquire. In short, Peter’s work has quietly taken on the haunting quietude of those huge Indian Buddhas that look as if they have seen everything and accept
Robert Cording
In Peter Makuck’s poetry, physical know-how and literary thought are not separate but happily joined, as in “tight,” his poem about repairing a chair and remembering a carpentry trick of his father’s. Makuck is a learned man, with degrees in French and American literature. His talk is full of humor and graceful erudition. In his poetry—and perhaps a key to what makes it so true and convincing—lies an important connection to the natural and work-a-day worlds. Whether he is watching the ocean and listening to “its drunken repetitions” or sitting in a chair stroking a favorite cat purring “her one mantra,” Makuck offers us a powerful lyric sense of the things of the world and how they might speak to us
John Balaban
In free-soaring lyrics, Peter Makuck casts deft nets for the moments that are nearly impossible to name, that disappear the way the fox in one poem vanishes “like smoke into smoke.” [Here we can know “the sunstruck plume of mist standing at a passing whale’s blowhole; the hawk pinning a squirrel; the school of silversides seen during an underwater dive “flashing like a fluid mirror / . . . each fish moving precisely, / perfectly meshed / into a shape / of continuous change.”] Context and setting are the restless edges of things, where barriers island perform their patient, unpredictable dance between land and sea. Just so, these poems turn between here and memory, life and loss. Moving with reverence and precision, the poet captures both “the sea’s unkeepable blue” and the “light that is always available.” Makuck is a master of praise, meditation, and mystery. This is his wisest and most beautiful collection
Betty Adcock
  • Published: 2005
  • Published by: BOA Editions
Buy on Amazon