Waiting for Poppa at the Smithtown Diner: Poems

Peter Serechuk, Author, Peter Serchuk, Author University of Illinois Press $12.95 (84p) ISBN 978-0-252-06104-2
``Year after year / the years become a cluttered wall, / the specifics generalized, the desires / permanent but always vague.'' By the time the reader encounters these lines, midway through this first collection, they are apt to sound unwittingly self-incriminating. Serchuk's verse is strewn with years revisited and memories retrieved, bluesy set pieces that brood over the heart's unreliability and the will's wobbliness. Too often these poems resort to boilerplate imagery (the moon makes its rounds here with unnatural frequency) and cookie-cutter abstractions of longing (``This is no world for crippled hearts''). James Wright and Theodore Roethke are Serchuk's patron saints: he labors admirably to capture a measure of the former's tough-minded bittersweetness and of the latter's visceral rapture. But lacking their gifts and chronically foiled by ham-handedness, he finds persuasive voice only when he resists the expansive gesture and grounds himself in carefully observed details of rural landscapes, uneasy weather and vexed companionship. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
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