TEN COMMANDMENTS by J.D. McClatchy

TEN COMMANDMENTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In his most personal volume to date, critic and editor McClatchy exploits his literary friendships in poems that are more relaxed and autobiographical than his previously arch and allusive books. Finding organization in the Decalogue, McClatchy both adheres to and transgresses the rules, often because of the homoeroticism that finds him worshiping idols (handsome older boys), lingering over vanities (bathroom graffiti), or contemplating adulteries--""the flesh is home,"" after all, in ""The Dialogue of Desire and Guilt."" Theft smartly includes translation (of Ovid), and breaking the Sabbath means a July 4th parade. Murder takes him outside himself in fine poems about a Vietnam sniper; the news' casual violence; and Eichmann in Argentina. McClatchy's careful rhymes and meters are at their best in his epigrammatic lyrics heading each section, which avoid the self-aggrandizement of so many poems here, most embarrassingly as the overeager student in ""In Class."" McClatchy doesn't seem to realize that flaunting his relations with his elders in verse seems pretentious--that owning ""Auden's OED"" and dreaming frequently about Elizabeth Bishop (""Three Dreams About Elizabeth Bishop"") makes him seem more literary fanboy than mature poet.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1998
ISBN: 0375701346
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Knopf