Alternative Lives

Constance Urdang, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $0 (61p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3650-3
Urdang ( Only the World ) is a talented writer who rarely ventures beyond the confines of a mere objective poetic recording of various piquant occurences and impressions. Each poem seems on the verge of breaking through to some essential truth that would tie the piece to a broader vision, but that connection is seldom made. To be sure, there are poems about a great many subjects is this collection: ``The Game of Troy'' deals with the monotony of everyday existence, ``Robert's Knee'' is about a creepy orthopedic ``surgeon'' with psychic powers, ``Paris'' mocks a naive girl's ignorance amidst the splendor of the City of Lights, and so on. But only a few express the kind of insight and depth that gives poetry lasting resonance. In ``Alternative Lives,'' the poet writes: ``I could live like a vegetable in the country; / Brushing off crumbs of sleep, the rich loam of dreams, / . . . I could live earthy as a potato, or climb toward heaven / On a trellis, like these beans; why wouldn't/ Such a life be sweet?'' The yearning for a less complicated primordial existence is felt in every word. ``Traveling Without a Camera,'' about the flawed wistfulness of memory, is just as lovely. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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