GRAZING by Ira Sadoff


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A tenured radical (Colby College), embraces the ’60s in the worst way: his blend of the personal and political always favors the former and trivializes the latter, especially when he becomes an imaginary witness to oppression, whether in Peron’s Argentina or at a Selma lunch counter. Sadoff’s sixth volume still bears traces of his early deep imagism, but he continues to open up his prosy lines to the grit and junk of American culture, which he catalogues as symptoms of a country rotten with serial killers and —right-wing professors.— For all his rage at injustice, Sadoff always returns to himself, or to his relatives—persecuted Communists, Holocaust victims, and a homosexual uncle. Hoping to capture —the sheer magma of it all,— Sadoff tries hard to be gritty and shocking, rubbing our noses in —pisshole— towns and dismissing Vivaldi as a —poor obsessive ballless hack.— A hateful poem on Richard Nixon makes it harder to sympathize with Sadoff’s moments of self-pity in —The Myelogram.— With a poetic persona—his —I——that’s more shifty than shifting, he does enjoy lots of good sex, in true Sixties fashion. After admitting meanness to his first wife (—Time and Space—), he celebrates the rapture with his new mate in a number of poems. Sadoff best reveals his aesthetic (or lack of one) in —Language,— which disparages the word for the thing itself. With such an uninspired notion and others like it (—Don—t you hate metaphors?—), you begin to wonder why Sadoff bothers at all, despite occasional bursts of lyric intensity, unmarred by facile politics.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1998
ISBN: 0-252-06737-1
Page count: 72pp
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998