cover image Rider: The Rider Quintet, Vol. 1

Rider: The Rider Quintet, Vol. 1

Mark Rudman. Wesleyan University Press, $14.95 (122pp) ISBN 978-0-8195-1217-8

In an elegant, elegiac poem that recovers his relationship with his rabbi stepfather, ``the Jewish Rider,'' Rudman ( Diverse Voices ) has created a formal tour de force in which grief, memory and passion are dramatically played out in an elongated question and answer session. The poem takes the form of the poet answering--sometimes clearly and briskly, sometimes obliquely and aphoristically--the incessant questions of an inquisitive, knowledgeable, sometimes scornful voice since ``so much between us had to be left unresolved.'' As the drama unfolds, a remarkable man emerges, as well as his relation to his stepson, their distrust and ambivalence. Rudman's bold poetic device results in a poem prosaic and lyrical by turns, punctuated by Whitmanesque passages, fragmented couplets and prose poems of childhood reverie. So compelling is this elegy that we fully believe in the deceased rabbi who posthumously enters the poem to critique the elegy itself (``you still got a lot of facts wrong''), right the record (``without me you would have ended up in reform school''), scold his son (``Remember moderation''), and reaffirm his quarrelsome love. (May)