SOJOURN AT ELMHURST by Michael Lieberman

SOJOURN AT ELMHURST

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Lieberman, a Houston research physician, overreaches in this second book of poems, a narrative sequence concerning a middle-aged Jewish biochemist who checks into a mental hospital in order to resolve his spiritual tensions and sort out the competing voices in his head. Delusional and depressed, Frank Goldin confesses his “indiscriminate” “desirings” in verse that captures the delirium of his sensual “longings.” A prose report from his attending physician gives us the facts all too straight: Indeed, Lieberman too often resorts to a reductive prose and diminishes the genuine achievement of his best verse—poems that capture Goldin’s mad musings and the battle for the soul of this “fallen Jew” that’s being waged by Rabbi Yehuda, a Jewish mystic from Smyrna, and Padre Alfonso, a Christian vicar. As Goldin ponders the relation between his wife, his work, and an adulterous affair in Japan, both clerics agree he should embrace his Olt, a logic that ultimately allows Goldin once again to “repose among the asymptotes” (i.e., join the sane). Flashes of poetic skill, as in the eloquent “But,” make the rest of this sequence, with its excess of prose, seem like a work in progress, in desperate need of Lieberman’s solid versifying.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-89823-189-2
Page count: 96pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998