Against Dreaming: Poems

C. G. Hanzliclek, Author University of Missouri Press $10.95 (56p) ISBN 978-0-8262-0933-7
Hanzlicek's ( The Mahler Poems ) seventh collection of poetry is divided into three sections that describe the locus of his concerns: ``This Life,'' a gathering of meditative lyrics; ``Czechoslovakia,'' poems about the bloodless revolution of 1989 and the more distant, not-so-bloodless past; and ``Mahler,'' poems addressed to and inspired by the composer. The poems are decidedly terrestrial; they express both a love for things animate and inanimate, and a distrust of mentality. Imagination itself is suspect, because ``so much of it has been given / To shaping deaths.'' In ``Mystery,'' the approach to an abyss gives rise not to dizzy euphoria, but a plea for groundedness. Favoring people and things, the poet resolutely rejects idealism: ``If you want to say this life / Is merely the bridge / To the life we're asked to dream of, / You are my enemy.'' The opposition captured in the title is a bit too resolute, in the sense that the poems tend more toward telling than exploring, often end flatly, and can be rather simplistic: ``Some of us these days / Can no longer find anyone to listen / To where we've been, / So we pay good money / To professional listeners / To have our minds made well.'' A formal monotony seems to match the lack of reflection. The poems tell the reader much, but ask little of him. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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