POEMS FOR THE GAME OF SILENCE by Jerome Rothenberg

POEMS FOR THE GAME OF SILENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three ""programs"" of poems 1960-1968 by a recently surfaced and fast-ascending underground poet. His work makes a strong but paradoxical impression: against the headlong experimental rush of the whole, individual poems have an almost classical poise and autonomy. The first section establishes him as a kind of sculptor of words and images, whose subject is elemental pain and whose phrases and vision recur with slight variation as if shaving toward some final baring of the nerve. Such repetition in the second set has a more formal, intellectual import -- and the poems here are the chilliest by far -- Rothenberg having discovered affinities with Gertrude Stein and Arshile Gorky; and in the third he finds and explores congenial aspects in the traditional, and playful, poetic forms of primitive cultures. The showpieces of this last group are two ""Horse Songs"" recreated from the Navajo, in which sound and sound-play have a delightfully alien priority. Despite Rothenberg's eclecticism, his poems are individual and adamantly principled: what may leave readers dazed is not the discontinuity from style to style but the leaps and bounds of his singleminded movement toward ""purity"" and ""totality."" This will be the first broad exposure for most of the poems included.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1971
Publisher: Dial