MAPPING THE BONES OF THE WORLD, by Warren Hatch, Signature Books, 96 pages, $15.95 (softcover)

Warren Hatch, whose friends know him as Scott, is a gifted young poet who has published in Prairie Schooner and Western Humanities Review and received several poetry prizes.

To earn money, he teaches English and literature at Utah Valley State College.

This is his debut poetry collection, and it is filled with stories from his youth, history, celebrations of the land, and in every case just the right words and nothing more. His selections are varied and rich, evocative, thoroughly developed, imaginative and powerfully creative.

The reader is likely to think these poems must come from a much older man with an expansive background, but he is just at the beginning of his career, and he is that good. Just imagine what his poetry will be like in 10-20 years.

His title poem, "Mapping the Bones of the World," is a creative masterpiece. It is filled with exact, expressive geography and history. He describes tomato and squash vines, white dust, juniper forests of the Onaqui Range, Cottonwood trees, the Pony Express Trail, Lookout Pass, bits of sagewood.

Then he switches to human beings, getting laid off, going back on cocaine, visiting a parole officer, getting busted by the highway patrol — and a 12-gauge shotgun.

One poem is devoted to "Cutting the Last Hay" — with memories of silver alfalfa under the moon, pulling the clutch of the tractor, a pheasant crouching before the blade, and a stream "deep enough to drink with grace."

Often, Hatch inserts workable dialogue into his poetry, such as "Timpie Valley" where the narrator says, "Rattlesnakes live here, hundreds in these rocks ... but they're sleeping now." He imagines "the crust of earth, thin like brittle ice, raw, clay-laden earth, heaped, tamped and leveled by machines to fill a crater 150 feet wide."

In "Token," Hatch writes of headlights that drift outside the road edge, a vehicle tilting down the inside shoulder, skidding on its side, catching, tumbling until "salt dust swallows the car." It's the story of a hitchhiker and an accident told with impressive imagery.

Hatch's poetry could be extended at any time into a number of different novels, all with an abundance of material. One thing is certain, most readers will reread this collection.


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