Falling Water

John Koethe, Author Harper Perennial $22 (80p) ISBN 978-0-06-055371-5
Even if the author notes didn't reveal that Koethe's day job is that of philosophy professor, it would be easy enough to guess. The 15 poems that make up this collection are nothing if not meditative. There are direct references to Wittgenstein and Freud. Disembodiment is a favorite theme. And often Koethe adopts a professorial rhetoric, as in ""Argument in Isolation"": ""Premise: one exists alone,/ Within a system of increasingly mild ideals/ --The good of love, the greater good of dreams--/ Abstracted from the musings of the grown-up child."" Should readers be caught napping (which is likely) at the start of the title poem, a too long discourse on remembrance, they will suddenly be called upon to ""Contemplate a man/ Oblivious to his settings."" At times, Koethe says in 10 lines what should be said in five or finds only a sentimental vocabulary to enliven his dry theorems: ""...the truest/ Statement is the one asserted by the sun// That shines indifferently on loneliness and love."" But then he will rebound with imagery from his life in Milwaukee, or with a sharp triplet: ""Think of an uninhabited landscape,/ With its majesty rendered otiose/ By a stranger's poverty of feeling."" If the volume is inconsistent and doesn't marry passion or bold phrasing to thought nearly often enough, it is always unique and earnest, earning the professor a solid B for his efforts. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Show other formats
Ebook - 80 pages - 978-0-06-203486-1
Paperback - 108 pages - 978-0-06-095257-0
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.