A poetic cri de coeur from a proponent of liberty.
If Rosenfeld had the same politics when he attended the University of California, Berkeley, as he does now, it’s safe to say that he ruffled some feathers at that bastion of liberalism, because this poet is a libertarian with a capital L. And in this volume, he’s made the idiosyncratic choice to express his philosophical and political thinking in verse. In its purest form, libertarianism is a thorough devotion to personal freedom, and readers will see the poet celebrating that virtue in works such as “For Fundamental Freedom Sonnet”: “For motions of each molecule / Beset the universe this secret, / That hope for freedom for all people / Begins with happiness’ egress.” For Rosenfeld, freedom is under attack from many corners, but the state threatens it most frequently. So, in “Song of Infidelity,” he writes, “I don’t believe / In the corporate state. / It ordered my love. / Why do I hate? / My freedom it took, …Forced me to live / My life not for me, / And forced me to give / For its spending spree.” The author is sure to find an enthusiastic niche audience for his clever rhymes. However, some of these same readers may fall away when he makes his more radical claims, such as when he compares Washington, D.C., to a “new Kremlin” or implies that his opponents are “[g]raduates of Himmler’s schools.” Rosenfeld closes the collection with a short story titled “Something Bubbling.” This piece, a satirical riff in the key of Jonathan Swift or Mark Twain, is a playful if predictable tale about the overregulation of soap that’s also an endorsement of free market principles. Of course, a brief book review isn’t the place to debate the merits of an unfettered free market, but one fears after reading this volume that a poem may not be, either. Some readers may wish to look elsewhere—to Ayn Rand, Albert Jay Nock, Ludwig von Mises or other authors that Rosenfeld channels—if they want to think more deeply about this provocative political philosophy.
Strong poetry that sometimes gets weighed down by the ideological burden it has to bear.