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In his new collection of poems, Carmine Starnino writes of mid-life within the context of family life, testing traditional views of masculinity against contemporary experience. Adopting the swagger of the “unoutshoutable big shots” of that generation of cabbies, factory-lifers and hard-ass dads that sired us, Starnino pursues the leviathan machismo that seemed to propel them. How does it square with the urbane young fathers he encounters taking their toddlers to play in the park, or the gear-obsessed quest for the perfect weed-free lawn? Moving from putting his restless child to bed to the hospital bedside of his dying father, Starnino’s poems offer an intimate if unresolved portrait of an apprenticeship into manhood.

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