The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure
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The editor claims to have “turned up the heat several notches” since Passionate Hearts (not reviewed), the last erotic anthology she assembled, but it seems that several more notches were in order. A psychotherapist, Maltz advocates “sex within a context of real love, commitment, and safety”—but she has unfortunately allowed “safety” to dictate her selection of poems, engendering an overall uniformity that makes for tedious reading. Contributors include Octavio Paz, Sharon Olds, Audre Lorde, Galway Kinnell, and a slew of lesser-known writers who, based on these offerings, should probably remain that way. Most of them traffic in predictable, time-worn erotic metaphors—water, moon, fruits, flowers, honey, wine—and when they turn to the literal (i.e., body parts), the result is simply a squishy, undistinguished amalgamation of hips, nipples, sweat, and tongues. Rarely is the heat of the proverbial moment captured as skillfully and frankly as in Dorianne Laux’s “2 am,” when the narrator finds herself “on the floor of your office, the dirty carpet / under my back, the heel of one foot / propped on your shoulder.” Worse, the collection is practically devoid of humor—Neil Carpathios refers to himself as “a bra junkie” when a salesperson notices him “fingering the lacy cups” in his fetishistic contribution (“In Victoria’s Secret, Near the Bras”)—but that, alas, is about as amusing (or as kinky, for that matter) as things ever get.

Good intentions needn’t translate into good anthologies, as this one demonstrates.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 2001
ISBN: 1-57731-133-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: New World Library
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000