The strongest collection yet from this widely praised poet is about the central players in our lives, our relationships over time — between mother and son, mother and daughter-and how one generation of relationships informs and shapes the next.
The opening sequence of the collection “Manhood” looks at the insular world of baseball, shedding light on the complexities of gender, boyhood, and coming of age. The poet captures the electrifying, proud language of baseball talk, channeling the tone and approach of the young men she observes as a mother and bringing poignance and deeper understanding to the transaction between herself as observer and the young men she sees growing into adulthood. “American Comedy” is a sonnet sequence about the absurdities and realities of modern domestic life; figures in literature are the players in “Classical Education.” The final section, “The Players,” makes a forceful and disturbing revelation as to how generations hand down both strengths and weaknesses. Exploring the nature of attachment on many levels, The Players brings us Jill Bialosky at her best in poems that find a new language to describe the rich and universal story that is modern motherhood.