"Between the discovery that there is a design which only his poetry enables him to find as he confronts the world and the discovery that such a design is a snare, merely a means of keeping him from further discernment, Michael Rosen is wedged, is productively pinioned, [ should say, for it is just this pressure--of meaning discerned on one hand and of meaning distrusted on the other--which makes the tension of these poems, a new version of the old wars between mind and body, memory and hope, self and surround. How tender and inclusive are Rosen's preoccupations, and how disabused his conclusions! One reads these playful, stricken poems with wonder--how will such ventures conclude, or even persist? What will happen next? Here is a poet who persuades us, as the saying goes, to stay tuned."--Richard Howard
At times it's difficult not to think that poetry is dead. Then comes along a book of poems like Rosen's, and one's faith is restored. Rosen addresses a wide range of topics?from AIDS to cleaning windows, from old age to walking dogs in the snow-filled park in a wide range of styles. These well-crafted poems "understand the broken silence" and take the reader on a small tour of what poetry should be. Rosen (A Drink at the Mirage, Princeton Univ., 1985) may not win the National Book Award for this work, but he offers the reassurance that the art of poetry is thriving.—Library Journal
In Traveling in Notions Michael J. Rosen creates a novel in poems, a questing contemplation, an alter ego, Gordon Penn, who holds to hopefulness amid circumstances that will have none of it. Penn is a widower, a soon-to-retire notions salesman, a midwestern family man - a man akin to Italo Calvino's optimistic Marcovaldo or a character who might inhabit a story by John Cheever or John Updike. Each poem in the collection relates an episode in Penn's ongoing confrontation with contemporary society.