cover image The Crooked Inheritance

The Crooked Inheritance

Marge Piercy, . . Knopf, $24 (155pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26507-4

Piercy's 16 books of accessible, sometimes outspokenly feminist poetry, along with her many novels and nonfiction books, have gained a wide and loyal following. This big collection of somewhat talky new poems may not disappoint her devotees, but seems unlikely to add to her reputation. Familiar subjects—political injustice, familial inheritance, Jewish heritage, the pleasures of cooking and gardening, the troubles of later life—get treated, mostly, in predictable, low-pressure ways. When Piercy (Colors Passing Through Us , 2003) takes clothes that don't fit from her "closet of doom," "The resale shop/ is already waiting.../ ...and I feel my own unplanned/ obsolescence creep into my flesh." Antiwar poems focus on an oblivious America, where "shopping is our favorite entertainment." As for Hurricane Katrina, "Baby is crying/ Grandma is dying/ and that dirty water is getting higher." Reminiscences of Detroit, where Piercy grew up, and a sequence of poems on Jewish liturgical occasions (meant, perhaps, for a congregation to use) stand out, and Piercy's honesty is always welcome. (Nov.)