VISITING RIGHTS by Phyllis Janowitz


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Janowitz's remarkable second book of poems (after Rites of Strangers) is the diary of a troubled female life, familiar in its lineaments--husbands and divorce, housework and children--yet fiercely seized. ""You can shut yourself into the bathroom/and pray for the end/of this typical day./ You can sprinkle/ arsenic/ on the lettuce--/ divorce--/ remember this:/ the possibilities are not limitless./ They are yours."" Or, with an angry intelligence: ""This is not a clip snipped from a Hitchcock entertainment./ Quite simply, your cat is teaching her kitten how to hunt,/ your daughter has slipped on the split/ carcass of a baby rabbit."" A chronicle of a sex-counselling and consciousness-raising retreat, ""Mendota River Inn,"" is at once anguished and satirical: ""Stuart Griddle unexpectedly/ emits a primal scream;/ . . ./ He is almost/ strangled by our loving/ efforts to convince him/ it's his right to be born."" The tension and dark humor are reminiscent of Plath, though Janowitz is not so bleak. Formally, she is in the tradition of Moore and Bishop. An exceptional new poet.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press