WHITE PAPER by George Starbuck


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Earlier poems by Starbuck, such as ""A First Year in Boston"" or ""Whaddaya Do For Action in This Place,"" blended demotic speech with high-toned dramatic cadences very much in the Lowellian manner. His newest collection is less strident, the introspective passions more relaxed. Principally Starbuck's later concerns revolve very closely around the contemporary American scene, from Vietnam demonstrations to the lenghtyconcluding ""Poem Issued by Me to Congressmen,"" an excoriating kaleidoscope of Washington chicanery. All of the pieces generally manage a well-turned formal structure sharpened with colloquial thrusts and an angry wit. Starbuck often adopts the posture of the swinger, but he has a sound literary intelligence behind him, so the nihilistic whimsy is held to a minimum. There is rarely the swollen excitement or joke-book indignation of the usual Beat militia or of Robert Sward. The waste efforts of commercial man, outdoorsy scenes, the banalities of recent history, the pangs of relatedness--these are the everyday confrontations he freshens with a buoyant idiom and an athletic awareness of moral values. Villon appears to be the current mentor and Starbuck's three ballades are the volume's most engaging achievements. It's a good vein to mine. He should delve deeper in it.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1966
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.