Greed: Poems

Ai, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-393-03561-2
In her fifth book, Ai ( Fate ) imagines and experiences contemporary degrees of American violence: who commits it, who endures it, and who does not. Her poems are narrated by a fairly raunchy cast of public and private people that includes an anonymous looter, Marion Barry, J. Edgar Hoover, a battered wife who finally shoots her husband, and an ice cream man, once molested by his parents, who himself molests children on the job. The violence is physical, sexual, moral; flamboyant or withheld; crafty, or senseless. And the poetry serves to bear witness, not indulge in excess--it is notable, partly, for an austerity. As in her earlier work, the poet's directness of address is an impressively leveling power, laying open complex situations with an odd, unapologetic, sometimes devastating candor: ``I shot him, I say, he beat me,'' reports the abused wife of her husband in ``Finished.'' But there is no redressing an injustice, and nobody can be righteous. The wife concludes, ``I do not tell them how the emancipation from pain / leaves nothing in its place.'' Ai looks for wrongs, and doesn't right them. That isn't easy, and it seems truthful. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1993
Release date: 11/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-393-31201-0
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