Robert Bagg has one of the few uniquely identifiable voices of his poetic generation at once open and condensed, yet poignantly explicit, probing and multilayered, a voice would one could call Baggian straight talk. In The Tandem Ride, he has compiled a versatile collection of not only a kaleidoscope of imagery and Classical allusions but also a dazzling assortment of personal experience and literary resonance. The distinguishing feature of Bagg's poems, early and late, is that he writes with a deft hand and gliding hawk's eye. He takes his subjects not only to heart but to mind, and the reader receives willingly the full force of both.
A ribbon for Bagg's penetrating diction and his excursions into the heart, for his invitation into the sensual worlds of his and our our own pasts, his minglings of the classical and modern worlds of what it is to be aware and human. No American poet has so updated, dramatized, and clarified within modern experiential settings Greek historical overtones and geographies as has Bagg. His intellectual range is prodigious, and his original diction testifies to his literary perceptions and his openness to human experience. His voice is authoritative and penetrative, and his lines simmer with overtones and undertones rife with wit and melodic in sounds.
In the opening poem, “Ostrakoi”—fragments of clay pots; one use to which 5th century B.C.E. Athenians put them was to find the matching half held by a long-lost relative—he remembers (more…)