Troy Jollimore in the New York Times:
“America’s epic,” the poet Campbell McGrath writes, “is the odyssey of appetite.” It’s a good line, both clever and seductive, though in the wrong hands it’s the sort of thing that could be merely reductive. But McGrath knows the ins and outs of appetite as deeply, and as thoroughly, as he knows the highways and byways of America. He has spent decades exploring both. “Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems” is a rich and invigorating sampling of the poetic results of these explorations.
America is McGrath’s primary subject, as it was Walt Whitman’s. (There are few poets today who seem to have inherited such a healthy measure of the Whitmanic spirit.) Like Whitman, like America, McGrath ranges in his work from the beautiful to the brash, from the expansive to the intimate. It encompasses sprawling vistas, urban conflagrations and tiny, tender dioramas. Because he loves driving cross-country, it is, too, a poetry of motels, small towns, remote outposts and roadside attractions.