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the kind of stale modernism I feel in much of the other poetry under consideration. What finnlly emerges for me from reading these pamphlets, is Ix1S! seen in the number of |x>ems devoted to the fact, the inability, or the possibility of writing it poem. The art of writing a poem has become the subject of writing ¡i poem, proluibly the most self-conscious and miniaturized of topics. The art object is the ultimate object of contemplation, the greciaii urn lives, the majority of the poems seem io l'unie from some musty attic or public museum where the collection of small artifacts of the past is prized and labeled. Perhaps there is some injustice in (his. The pamphlets are well produced, well printed, and provide us with other voices than those we read in the anthologies or the established trade books. Perhaps my dissatisfaction arises from some historical notion of small presses and little magazines as harbingers of the new (a notion, unfortunately, which presses and magazines themselves like to foster). That there is nothing new here may not Ix1 so much a comment on the press itself as on my own expectations, or upon the time we inhabit, a time with more and more poetry available for comparison, a drowning in voices which sound, omniously, like our own. Kathleen K. Wiegner Stumbling. Dick Lourie. The Crossings Press, 112 pp. $7.!»R 'cloth), S3.95 (paper) contrary to what you probably have been thinking these poems are all about vou not me the chance to stand in the doorway and see both ways at orice . , . These lines bring to mind most of what I want Io say about Dick Lourie's new book, his first major collection since DREAM TELEPHONE (and incorporating most of that fine first book). It is this double seeing that impresses me immediately - - the ability to transmit the ordinary details of his own intensely lived experience in terms that you recognize in yourself even though your own experience has to be much different. No poet 1 can think of offhand presents quite so well as Lourie does the sense of the familiar, the commonplace, of a life lived with conviction and zest, on a one to one basis with others - the .sense that he is talking directly with the reader, without pretense, rhetoric, or bullshit. This gives his work - - even where it is strangest, as in his dream poems - - a consistency and naturalness that is altogether pleasing and at times deeply moving, as in his recent poems of marriage and loss, and such uncanny and Ix-autiful poems as "The Vision Of ? Last Reply To A Last Letter" (to me, one of the very best in the collection). It is this sense of 'talking' that gives even his political poems (and there are a great many in this collection) their strength and conviction. No one in his right mind these days can do convincing political poems without some sense of anti -authoritarian paranoia ,itid without some Kafka-esque sense of the absurd, demonic, and capricious invasion of private life by a baroque variety of institutional and cultural authorities. The temptation is to moralize, to lecture the reader, as Lourie does in "Dangerous Messages For High School Students," or to shock him as he does in "Civics I: Nothing Fancy" (in some ways one of the weakest poems in the book). "Dangerous 170 Messages" is, however, a completely sane and revolutionary poem written in that familiar, talkative style Lourie handles so well, It is didactic, but it is also so disarmingly frank and honest about itself that I have to call it a 'necessary poem." It is a poem about an adult coming among the kids, recognizing at least their potential hostility or indifference, and talking their own kind of sense to them without patronizing and without any false kind of empathy or phony identification : ... I am here to tell you about tearing away the curtain that hides the secrets of power . . . you have always been told to grow up so you can be rolled off the assembly line . . . but this message says: seize control of your own learning because the more you learn the...


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pp. 170-173
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