Reviews for Tin Can Tourist (Fordham University Press, 2001)

James Richardson:

"The life of Scott Hightower's poised and sensuous meditations is a second life. He returns as an elegiac wanderer to a world that has itself wandered from its meaning. "What is it I'm after?" is his question, and he waits with a mirror-smooth patience and a democratic tenderness for his need and the world to declare themselves. These poems watch with care, for anything may vanish, anything may be a revelation."


Kathy Fagan:

From the plains of Texas to the streets of the Bronx, from the bedroom to the Spanish Steps of Rome and back, Scott Hightower takes us on a journey through cultures high and low, and teaches us the lessons that only memory and grief, art, science, and history can teach. At its best, Hightower's work recalls the elegance, modesty, and worldliness of James Merrill's; like him, Hightower is always most at home in the verse. These are the poems--the urgent postcards--of a wise traveler, a true citizen of the world of poetry.


Rigoberto Gonzalez:

An Intelligent and Perceptive Book. The voice in this debut collection communicates experience and observation with a confidence that subverts the self-centered reflections we might expect from a "typical tourist." Indeed the speaker is well-traveled and has seen plenty, but his is a search that takes this book beyond the anecdote and into the tradition of the poet hungry for geography, landscape and motion, pushing his imagination into an active dialogue with his intellect. Literature has long recognized the need for poets to displace themselves from the familiar surroundings in order to sharpen the insights of empathy and vision. Hightower has undertaken such journeys, charting paths that guide us, his readers, into startling revelations. But what really impresses me is the way this poet is so attuned to the exceptional qualities of the ordinary, that even the Texas ranch, like Rome, can provide an important window into the world at large. Hightower never falters into sermon or presumption, but keeps his language honest and true to the stories he has to tell.

  Mark Svenvold:

Here is a wonderful first book that employs the markers that have come to stand, in Texas, in Rome, for permanence, from fence to forum--the legal lattice-work of land ownership, graves, burial mounds--in a brilliant meditation on transience that displaces all of these things. As you read this book, the title begins to shimmer, pointing to our own passing, the temporary shelter we have taken here on earth, as tourists in time.


AMERICAN POET, the Academy of American Poets,
Spring 2002, "Books Noted", p. 57:

In intimate and descriptive language, Scott Hightower's debut collection traces the curious specificities of place, both in travel and at home, inviting the reader into his paradoxical world, which is at once a place of intellect and emotion, quiet and noise, stillness and movement, asexuality and eroticism. Marie Ponsot writes, "The most exciting quality of Hightower's work is its poetic and paradoxical unifying of emotional and intellectual depth with a marvelous quietness."


Jason Bowns from Boston, MA:

Scott Hightower's inward insights and perceptions of the world around him blaze brilliantly within these poems. Unlike many poets out there he employs two key strengths, first by employing language that is not overly flowery or pretentious, but rather that is accessible to the reader. This is central to the beauty of his work, and, secondly, it is his passion, honesty, and overall emotional intensity that shine through so boldly. Though subtle at first, the reader himself becomes the Tin Can Tourist wandering through the landscape of Mr. Hightower's mind, from his childhood in Texas to New York, to comments about Northern Africa, to the Italian peninsula. The scope is wide, boundless like the poet's imagination. He is tied down by neither superficial nor forced imagery, but is instead set free by the love for people and places that circumvents this work. Though his first book, Mr. Hightower has been writing poetry for many years, and it is this seasoned skill that shines through bearing the clarity that only a true poet can provide -- with the aid of the age-old Muse, of course. Like the keepsakes that a traveller may claim along the way, this book is something to be forever treasured.


One of the Best, Jonathan A. Goldberg from New York, NY

Why did it take so long? Scott Hightower has been writing great poetry for a while now, but only recently has it found it's way into a volume. Tin Can Tourist is an amazing collection of beautiful poems. It's a cornucopia of imagery language and place. Each page and poem is a treat, I have returned to this book time and time again. It only gets better folks. If you like J. D. McClatchy, Mark Doty, Marie Ponsot, or Richard Howard you'll love this book. Heck, if you like words you'll love this book. It's a joy and a permanent fixture on reading list.


Flap/Cover Copy

In Tin Can Tourist, Scott Hightower invites the reader into his paradoxical world. It is at once a place of intellect and emotion, quiet and noise, stillness and movement, asexuality and eroticism. From the harsh Protestant landscape of his native central Texas to the chaotic streets of postmodern New York to the architectural pageantry of ancient Rome, Hightower pursues the truth to be found in luminous panoramas, great works of art, sparkling memories, and human touch. His poems recall rodeos and sit-ins, weddings and funerals, university dorms and Spanish hotel rooms, exploring the myths we have inherited from the Bible, from medieval art, and from current movies. As he recounts the joys of discovery, the ecstasies of love, and, especially, the sorrows of loss, Hightower is always open, unfenced, inviting us to partake of his experiences, to become intimate with his life, to grow with him from poem to poem. He stretches the limits of his--and our--perception and understanding. And though his words tell poignant stories of loss--of childhood idylls, of friends from AIDS and cancer, of certainty--they also reaffirm the healing and transforming power of the human imagination.


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