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Reviews 157 of meaning. But the disentanglement from ideology's clutches and the reorientation of linguistic perception are not easy tasks and, to his credit, Silliman makes them as palatable as possible. His sense of humor is evident, his eye quite remarkable, and his own cameos in the poem sensitive. Overall, Silliman manages to create a poUtical and experimental poem which is as accessible as it is well-crafted, meticulously thought-out, and intelligent. That is refreshing, in and of itself. What openly confronts the problem of language serving ideology and Silliman should be commended for his attempt to actualize his new vision in poetry. Whether or not What actually breaks those chains is another matter—and perhaps, too much to ask realistically of any Uterary production. LINDA A. FROST Note 'Jerome J. McGann's article, "Contemporary Poetry, Alternate Routes," Critical Inquiry 13 (Spring 1987): 625-47, from which these quotes have been taken. House (Blown Apart): A Book ofPoems by David Shapiro. Woodstock: Overlook Press, 1988. pp. 89. $14.95 (cloth). The author of seven books of poetry, David Shapiro is routinely treated as a secondgeneration member ofthe New York School ofpoets, who are involved in the parodie ddfation of all absolute stances and in the celebration of the endless, context- busting, play of signifiers. Though such a characterization is too crude to do justice to the formal and intellectual subtlety of Shapiro's work, some poems in his recent book, House (Blown Apart), lend credence to this impression. "A Book of Glass," for instance, announces the desire to break free of fixed reference and to enter a territory of unfettered multiplicity: On the table, a book of glass. In the book only a few pages with no words But scratched in a diamond-point pencil to pieces in diagonal Spirals, Ught triangles; and a French curve fractures Unes to elisions. The last pages are simplest. They can be read backwards and thoroughly. Each page bends a bit Uke ludicrous plastic. He who wrote it was very ambitious, fed up, and finished. He had been teaching the insides and outsides of things To children, teaching the art of Rembrandt to them ... And I see a book in glass—the words go off In wild loops without words. I should Wake and render them! (32) In most of Shapiro's poetry, "the words" tend to "go off/ in wild loops." As he has noted in an interview, the work is "collaged, montaged, barraged." Attempts to submit entire poems to the "heresy of paraphrase" often result in mere hearsay, because, in most cases, the relationship between elements in the coUages are hard to fathom. Poems Uke "To Our Critics" caution interpreters to tread Ughtly: You built a chair for everything I dreamed I had forgotten proper names and proper nouns Forgotten parts of bodies Uke a word On an obscene blackboard in another dream 158 the minnesota review I dreamed the critics who deposed the dream had died Of a brutal phantasmagoria in proscription They had proscribed themselves (40) It would be a serious mistake to assume that Shapiro's poetic project—as playful and as referential^ unstable as many of his poems are—is merely to indulge in language games or to make fun of every committed stance and hence valorize ironic sUpperiness. The will to linguistic and stylistic experimentation, as weU as a more broadly intellectual sense of adventure, informs a great deal of his poetry, but these aspects are no more important than the articulation of an anti-authoritarian poUtical attitude. A leading student activist in the Columbia uprising of a Uttle over twenty years ago, Shapiro speaks of the darker side of his poetry as "a rage against our late empire." At times, Shapiro's rage takes fairly direct aim at a fairly determinate target. In "A Fragile Art," he utilizes surreal nightmare to suggest how the corporate mania for expansion menaces the fundamental structures of individual autonomy: At night, the contractors come And as they come, they build the bedroom Three bedrooms in your bedroom Nearly finished but no room Tables electricities half-beds Uke benches No privacy for the married man A mini-condo inside...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 157-159
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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