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Schorb’s thick third book of poems has the feel of occasional verse; he’s so indiscriminate in style and subject that his work as a whole seems motley and muddled. He mixes forms and diction, from the tried and true villanelle to jaunty Skeltonics, and some poems imitate their subjects in structure: —Pollock— splatters words on the page; —Snowbound— piles them on in a white blur. The title poem begs for more music and —better news— in life; and elsewhere the poet champions —mind-altering Sex— (—Ode to Sex—) and his wife, as well as the pleasures of domesticity. Though he worries about genetic determinism and other scientific explanations of things, Schorb ponders mostly oddball stuff: a couple in China (—Old Chinese Couple during the Cultural Revolution—); Houdini (—Houdini and the Dying Swan—); and some apocryphal sketches by Bosch more disturbing than his paintings (—Lost Sketches by Bosch—). For shock value, he mentally undresses a comely nun (—The Nun—) and recalls his mad uncle who killed his own family (—Family Tragedy—). In a tight, clever poem like —The Night Sweats,— Schorb is at his impersonal and resonant best, but that’s rare in a volume overloaded with long- lined imitations of Whitman that simply run on ad nauseam.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55753-120-X
Page count: 120pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998