Love and Crush: Poems

Barry Wallenstein, Author Persea Books $10.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-89255-158-3
Wallenstein's ( Roller Coaster Kid ) poems seem to have sprung directly from his unconscious; events are fractured, details exaggerated and connections to reality vague and tenuous. In ``All the Wonderful Things'' the poet focuses on an experience from childhood. He sees his father arriving ``atop / the most beautiful horse.'' The man takes the boy's hand, giving off a spark that ignites the essential male bond between the two. The poet deftly depicts the Freudian evolution of the child, from the fear and awe of his initial feelings toward his father to sexual identification. But most of the other work in this collection has little emotional resonance. In ``The Gypsies'' and ``Two 14-Year-Olds Talking from City Jail,'' the poet's interest in his subjects is perfunctory; he's like a photographer indiscriminately shooting scenes that ultimately do not turn out well on film. As for the more introspective poems, the images are too controlled to convey the turmoil of the unconscious. Perhaps this is due to Wallenstein's fear of those turbulent forces, expressed in the tellingly titled ``A Paranoid Scot Free'': ``There's a drowning in my imagination / god damn / and I want to dam it up / staunch its possibility.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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