Review: Fields, Classic Rough News
For his weekly poetry feature in the Washington Post, Robert Pinsky recently picked two poems by Kenneth Fields from his collection, Classic Rough News. Pinsky chose the poems “Cutting His Losses” and “Tangled,” and analyzed some of the finer points of the author’s meticulously constructed lines. Specifically, Pinsky focuses his praise on the clarity and intimacy with which Fields’ language engages the difficult topic of alcoholism:
Many excellent movies and novels have dealt with the ordeal of alcoholism. So too, has poetry, including the recent book by Californian Kenneth Fields. Reflective and vivid, cool rather than melodramatic, these compact poems have a grotesque comedy that makes the booze-curse more dire, not less. Fields presents his characters—”Billy,” “Burton,” a woman called “Billie,”—with blunt appraisal, clear-eyed sympathy and understated judgement.… Though the material is sad, the poems have the bracing, redeeming and even exhilarating feeling that comes from precision.