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The Life That I Have

Authors: Knute Skinner

ISBN: 9781912561148

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Just standing here.

That’s all I’m doing.” 

 So begins one poem in Knute Skinner’s latest collection, The Life That I Have. Like so many of these taut lyric-narratives, “Doing Nothing at All” affects a wry, rueful tone only to draw the reader toward the brink of some considerable existential, even metaphysical gravitas—as when a strong current runs below a seemingly placid surface so the reader hardly knows, at first, that they are quietly being swept away. Whether a couple at breakfast recollecting a first meeting, or a man confronting a life-quandary proposed by a half-eaten apple, or the poet himself considering the “thin hold” of a fallen limb on his garden’s cypress tree, the lives captured so intensively in Skinner’s poems never fail to glimpse and record the “fine print” of the soul. The flames confined behind the grate in his marvelous poem “The Fire” “would consume the world,” yet the poet recognizes “it is I who must bring the world to the fire.” Now nearing ninety, Knute Skinner for more than six decades has been doing just that to the fire of his imagination—vitally, consistently, indelibly.  

Daniel Tobin 


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