THE GYMNAST OF INERTIA by William Hathaway


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Hathaway (True Confessions & False Romances, A Wilderness of Monkeys) is a natural acerb, often peeved at the flab which hangs from both daily living and daily language. The jaundiced eye turns on the society: ""Our great gift is language, but that is not/ our salvation. If you ever dream we're God-/ like hang around the dimestores: no link/ is really missing."" But it also turns on the poet himself: there are some hunting and fishing poems here that are anything but celebrations, in which the poet is a central if less than heroic figure. Sometimes Hathaway slips, garbing the mundane in ludicrous rhetoric (""Dentistry""), but not often; his practice more usually is to stand back a step and watch the parade with sad amazement. ""Lysistrata"" catalogues middle-age (""too old to diddle around/ under porchlights and walk home/ top-heavy, the moon burns a whole/ in our pockets and the car always starts""). And ""The American Poet--'But Since It Comes To Good' "" is a very appealing sad/funny example of a familiar genre: the poem of charming, ironic hopelessness. Generally impressive work, then, from a poet who, refreshingly, never seems to be playing up to any particular audience.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1982
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press