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Books Noted: Campbell McGrath, Shannon

 

Ecco, 2009

Shannon is a book-length poem, a dramatic monologue in the voice of George Shannon, who was the youngest member of the Corps of Discovery, the group Lewis and Clark led during their exploration of the American West. The book imagines Shannon's thoughts when he is separated from the Corps as he tries to prove himself by recovering lost horses. He is lost, without much food or water, and the poem expresses his growing fear, the different ways in which he faces that fear, and his ingenuity in wilderness. Although written in one voice, the poem ranges between narrative, fragmented memory, lyrical observations of the natural world, metaphysical ponderings, and the experimental jags of someone cut off from all others. McGrath has imagined an observant and passionate Shannon, and it is fascinating to see history through his eyes, to have that time and landscape filled out through fact and a realistically invented fabric.


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