ANSWER BACK by Donald Finkel


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Each of the six long poems in this book is prefaced by, and interspersed with, a vast number of quotations from such highly diverse sources as Camus, the I Ching, Fred Hoyle, Admiral Byrd, the Kama Sutra, Jesus, Pluvkaq the Eskimo poet, Lenny Bruce. L.B.J. and a host of others. This wildly assorted collection of expressions is rather lumpily blended with the author's own. A theme of sorts is established by naming five of the poems after cave passages in Mammoth Cave National Park; and this background of speleology expands to related themes of holes and exploration, ranging from archaeology to sex, to quotations from Admiral Byrd, to astronomy, race-relations and religious, and back to the comfy hole of one's home. It is an ambitious plan, impressive as a concept and sometimes appealing in its sweep and in its juxtaposition of ideas. But it tries to accomplish too much, and is sometimes too nervous, full of modern jargon, unassimilated; the compilation of quotations which are, unfortunately, sometimes more memorable, even if simply by being part of our history, than the matrix of poetry which connects them.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1968
Publisher: Atheneum