THE NOTEBOOKS OF DAVID IGNATOW by David Ignatow

THE NOTEBOOKS OF DAVID IGNATOW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These considerably edited notebooks, dating primarily from 1950 (with occasional earlier entries), are called the ""poet's working journals"" but they are also the musings of a breadwinner and family man. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants who was apprenticed at an early age in the family bindery, for many years Ignatow was an evening writer -- he didn't live off poetry until in his fifties -- hating, like Kafka, the work he did by day: ""There are two worlds, mine and the one that keeps growing."" His son goes mad and Ignatow wears the mark of Cain (""I was a parent without loving it or the child""), he has a daughter and accepts her gladly, he's bereft when his father dies, the business prospers and he sells it; he remembers proposing to his wife, how his mother used to cover him at night with an extra blanket, he records sorrow at a friend's divorce, the sudden death of a graying executive like himself. Meanwhile, loving and despising money and its comforts, jovial and capricious, gregarious and solitary, he wrote poetry about his inner map and internal pain, ""outward images and outward events"" -- as therapy, expiation, pleasure, self-expression, a witness, to set down the world about him. Although nature is indifferent, man is evil, there is no heaven and no hell, ""emptiness calls to emptiness"" and ""generations follow one another in each other's place,"" Ignatow insists, ""I will bark because it will mean something. . . that I can respect as meaning."" He may not be the messiah and the American poet of his daydreams, but these notebooks, despite the repetitious metaphysics, are a very human document.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1973
Publisher: Swallow Press