OUTside/INside: Poems by Arnold Adoff

OUTside/INside: Poems

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Without a jot of punctuation, this could be seen as one long poem or a series of related ones, all contrasting OUTside appearances and/or reality with the Inside feelings and fantasies of one boy's day. (Up at bat and striking out, the boy imagines, inside, a ""secret/central/signal/system/full of/flashing/lights and creaking wheels and spinning dials"" and the like. Systematically, Adoff also directs our attention OUTside and Inside the boy's room, his sneaker, and so on.) There is more stretching for poetic imagery here than in Adoff's previous broken-line prosepoems, but most attempts come off as forced, far-fetched comparisons. The book's first words: ""OUTside/the rain is falling fast like the falling curtain/at the end of a school play."" The fantasies--in which that secret inner signal system is controlled by a green octopus eating a peanut-butter-and-tuna sandwich, then ""identical centipedes"" eating peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwiches, and later a ""family of detroit tigers"" eating peanut-butter-and-chopped-liver sandwiches--are perhaps meant to be humorous, but it's all too contrived and self-conscious to engage. The focus of the boy's dreams and activity is on baseball, which perhaps explains the diamond shapes that Steptoe sets floating over all his black-and-white drawings. In any case these forms emphasize the flat and dreamlike qualities of the pictures, as do Steptoe's manner of ""shading"" the drawings with light and dark patches, much as he used to break up the surface in his previous color illustrations. The pictures might work to reflect a mood, but Adoff doesn't create one.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard