Helping the Dreamer: New & Selected Poems 1966-1988

Anne Waldman, Author Coffee House Press $11.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-918273-50-5
Nineteen new poems and selections from 12 earlier collections (e.g., Skin Meat Bones ) permit readers to appreciate both the subtle variations in Waldman's unique style and the risks she takes in her most recent verse. The oldest pieces (written during her early 20s) evince a carefully calculated naivete, with quotidian details grounding a surrealist perspective. Fast Speaking Woman , published in 1975, marks her transition to a poetics based on chant and repetition. Such works as ``Distance Traveled'' prove her capable of a short, poignant lyric unhampered by pretense. ``Because my mother died I can speak these things,'' Waldman says in one long, new poem (``From Iovis Omnia Plena''), and this freedom enables her to attempt a deeper exploration of femininity, family and mothering: ``Barren this time /You grow hard under me mother / You push me off your belly / I thought you were soft / You rip the nipple from my mouth.'' From there she progresses to ``The Stick,'' powerfully envisioning the ferocity of sons: ``The mother wants to forget the day / The boy came of age with all his heart / It was a stick beating her heart.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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