Unbeliever

Lisa Lewis, Author University of Wisconsin Press $19.95 (72p) ISBN 978-0-299-14400-5
Readers of the book that won this year's Brittingham Prize will be reminded of Walt Whitman by these sometimes prosaic, long-lined poems. Echoes of his words resound: ``I hate myself/ For ever believing I rocked my own cradle into being/ For the anger and strength and persistence/ I suffer myself to bear into the world.'' Yet though Lewis's first book may place her among Whitman's daughters, the hard-edged voice is all her own, and it does not falter as she considers the difficulties of female sexuality, gender and human isolation. Her lengthy narratives sometimes take a confessional tone, and they are almost obsessive in the attention they pay to life's details, rendering the mundane and the bizarre with equal care. The most memorable pieces are meditations on topics once taboo in poetry: a man overcoming his sexual dysfunction, a voyeur watching a stranger masturbate, an adolescent girl caught in sex-and-drugs exploits, a woman who craves to kill the wife-beater she spots in a restaurant. Guided by her best gifts, ``anger and strength and persistence,'' Lewis prevails. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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FORMATS
Paperback - 59 pages - 978-0-299-14404-3
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