RESCUE THE DEAD by David Ignatow


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It isn't easy to review a poet's first volume, because prose criticism cannot suffice and excerpts inevitably distort. This collection is very competent, with a highly respectable imprimatur, and quite attractive as well. When Ignatow waxes sympathetic, he tends toward condescension; when his style is elevated, it gets portentous; but most of the poems are direct in content, straightforward in style, with a fashionable self-irony which sometimes turns to wit (""When they met/ it was to recognize their need for contrast/ and it turned out/ they rubbed each other the wrong way"") or to subdued anti-lyricism (""She is bent/ upon my distraction/ for which I do penance/ by laughter""). All the poems express an attentive ""I"" with strong opinions and quick feelings toward work, children (including his own), traffic lights, old men and other suitable topics--also Churchill and Vietnam, with a disciplined tendentiousness. In short: pleasant and promising, but unmemorable, even when the poetry transcends the poet's resolute detachment.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1967
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press