Iovis: Book II

Anne Waldman, Author
Anne Waldman, Author Coffee House Press $15.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-56689-053-3
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-56689-005-2
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Performance-poet Waldman published the first volume of her dynamic and challenging Iovis epic in 1993. The 25 loosely organized sections of Book II address many of the same themes: male and female energy, history and mythology, mysticism, Eastern religion and contemporary politics. Employing poetry and prose, Waldman caroms from rare moments of startling vision to pages of uninspired lists (two pages of names of constellations) and sometimes incomprehensible meditations, as in ""Sequel to a Sharp Turn,"" in which she uses blank space and extended ellipses. Waldman is most accessible when she turns from her Beat-rooted brew of world travel and Eastern philosophy to the quotidian. Parts of ""So Help Me Sappho,"" for instance, are addressed to a modern-day mother who ""writes in a Powerbook/ who drives a Volvo and adds chile to most of her dishes/ who beats her little boy with broom handles/ who demands some savvy/ who sneezes in Spring & buys sheets of stamps/ who folds the day into many hours...."" Although often overwhelmingly abstract and disjunctive (""Mom, you're so random,"" a son reiterates), Iovis, Book II retains a firm hold on relevance with its accrual of talon-sharp details. (Feb.)
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