Sunday, May 24, 2009

TSS: Sunday Book Coveting----Poetry book

POEMS 1959-2009 by Frederick Seidel

Quoting from The New York Times:

"Frederick Seidel has spent the last half-century being that darkest and strangest sort of poet. He is, it’s widely agreed, one of poetry’s few truly scary characters. This is a reputation of which he’s plainly aware and by which he’s obviously amused, at least to judge from the nervy title of his 2006 book, “Ooga-Booga.” This perception also colors the praise his collections typically receive — to pick one example from many, Calvin Bedient admiringly describes him as “the most frightening American poet ever,” which is a bit like calling someone “history’s most bloodthirsty clockmaker.” What is it about Seidel that bothers and excites everyone so much?

The simplest answer is that he’s an exhilarating and unsettling writer who is very good at saying things that can seem rather bad. When a Seidel poem begins, “The most beautiful power in the world has buttocks,” it’s hard to know whether to applaud or shake your head.

Here is “That Fall”:

The body on the bed is made of china,
Shiny china vagina and pubic hair.
The glassy smoothness of a woman’s body!
I stand outside the open door and stare.

I watch the shark glide by . . . it comes and goes —
Must constantly keep moving or it will drown.
The mouth slit in the formless fetal nose
Gives it that empty look — it looks unborn;

It comes into the room up to the bed
Just like a dog. The smell of burning leaves,
Rose bittersweetness rising from the red,
Is what I see. I must be twelve. That fall.

It seems inadequate to call this a poem of adolescent male sexual desire, although that’s exactly what it is."


Linda Jacobs said...

Very intriguing! I'll have to check hom out!

Linda Jacobs said...

him! Duh!

Frances said...

Just wrote on same topic myself recently. He always strikes me as vaguely bored. He attaches his work to the more horrifying aspects of people and situations because the shock value is all the jolts the consciousness. But I could be totally wrong of course. Just how I prefer to read his poems.