II. Reviews of LISTENING TO THE CANDLE: A POEM ON IMPULSE
Roger Mitchell, American Book Review, December 1993-January 1994, 25-27: "There is nothing quite like these books, despite their acknowledged heritage in the tradition of the personal epic....It is in their intentions and in their sense of form and language that these works are most original....Scott's trilogy, only two thirds completed as yet, is certain to be one of the most remarkable and challenging works of our time."
Charles Guenther, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/29/92: "'Listening
to the Candle' and its earlier companion volume may yet be recognized
among the masterpieces of our time in narrative poetry."
Publishers Weekly, August 10, 1992: * [i.e., recommended]
"... autobiographical elements form the core of this impressive
book-length poem....Through 200 pages of tight three-line stanzas,
the poet extends the limits of personal history by incorporating
quotations... from over 150 sources in a context that stretches
his emotional journey. Past and present converge, but the imagery
is so relevant to its particular time that readers should easily
locate themselves....The subtitle makes one wish more contemporary
poets gave way to such uninhibited yet crafted exploration."
Publishers Weekly, November 2, 1992, 44: on short list
of four recommended books (with Gerald Stern, William Matthews,
Sharon Olds) after four best books of poetry for 1992 (by Jean
Garrigue, Louise Gluck, Derek Mahon, and Charles Simic).
Wisconsin Bookwatch, February 1993, 6: "A book of
great richness wherein self-knowledge is more at issue than self-alienation;
art perhaps overshadowing politics."
Daniel Morris, Harvard Review (Winter 1993), 1-3: "While
Scott resists the Eliotic attempt to extinguish personality in
order to tell the story of the culture as a whole, he also chooses
to write a poetry which is distinct from the work of Frank O'Hara
or the very late notebook poetry of Robert Lowell....The wisdom
that Scott achieves in this poem, and that he embodies in its
flexible, inclusive structure, is that we must search for a way
between what he calls the 'brutality' of civilization and the
mindless anarchy that he says will soon lead to brutality; the
way is achieved in the act of making, as Scott advocates....The
poet's attempt to 'comprehend' rather than to 'impose' order --
his openness to patterns that happen to exist -- is a feature
of the poem's effortless style. Scott presents to readers a way
toward the making of a less aggressive (which is to say, contemporary)
form of modern poetry."
Marion K. Stocking, Beloit Poetry Journal," Spring
1993, 36-39: "To me this appears as a major Romantic poem
for our era: a "Prelude," evaluating the century in
terms of the growth of the poet's mind: like Byron and Shelley,
profoundly engaged in the political and social evils of the age;
like all Romantics, concerned...with Becoming, Time, Change, and
Alan Williamson, American Poetry Review, 23/1, January/February
1994, 36-37: "The poem gets, in its wonderful Williams-like
slippages, the odd vagary of meditation -- wandering over trivial
learning and a lifetime's forgotten experience -- as many more
committed poets have not. But it gets, too, the fundamental insight:
that it takes 'dar[ing]' -- but brings immense restoration --
to...simply be where we are....Whether the issue is the role of
linguistic error in early childhood memories, New Historicist
misgivings about the ethics of Spenser and Shakespeare, or the
value of sexual liberationism, Scott has a charming way of moving
through both sides of any argument....No book in recent memory
is more venturesome in its intellectual voyages than this one,
yet one of its most attractive qualities is its dogged humanism."
Mark Abley, Montreal Gazette, April 4, 1992: "A student of Zen, he has a Zen-like gift for radiant, unexpected images: `the smooth circle / on the back of my wrist / where my watch / is missing,' or `the cramped bucket seat / of her flimsily hooded MG / in the snowblack Canadian night.' And there's something more, too, that drives this book, leavening its lyricism with fire: Scott's corrosive honesty about himself."
J.N. Igo Jr., Choice, Feb. 1993: "cool cerebral nourishment
of a kind long lacking."
Daria Donnelly, Chicago Review 44/3&4, 1998: "a
vividly intelligent portrait of...coming to terms...in gratitude
and the spirit of forgiveness....a continuously surprising memoir...also
a sustained meditation on poetry....His Zen way...seeks enlightenment,
achieved by a discipline of bringing to mind what the mind has
hidden, both dark and light."