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Ignatow gathers his poetic career in this collection. He portrays metaphorically the themes of death and isolation, which dominate the volume, through trees, rocks, and clouds. These metaphors suggest that the speaker is enclosed or rooted in the self, alienated from the world. In the early poems, Ignatow uses cheap rhetoric that leads us to pseudoprofound conclusions. How ever, the later poems (dating from the Seventies to the present) retain the themes of death and isolation but are more subtle and lucid; these poems reveal Ignatow's poetic genius. Because the speaker has grown comfortable with himself and enjoys being alone, we revel in the emotional impact of the poems and can "look forward to tomorrow." We can identify with Ignatow when he says "one leaf left/ on a branch and no unhappiness." Against the Evidence shows Ignatow's poetic development and maturity, making this an essential addition to most collections.
- Tim Gavin, The Episcopal Acad., Merion, Pa.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ignatow publishes his selection from 60 years work upon his eightieth birthday, February 7, explaining that while he changed styles in midcareer, his themes remained the same. He sees that change as one from realism to surrealism, from waking observation to dreaming. The reader may see it as one from the short-lined free verse of the poems from the 1930s through the 1960s to the prose poetry Ignatow adopted in the 1970s and has used about equally ever since. The themes--the wonders, difficulties, and pains of living fully in the world--have indeed not changed. But the change from free verse to prose poetry has affected the cogency of individual poems. In his early poems, Ignatow is reliably personable, real, individuated, although notably self-absorbed--and a definite New Yorker during a time when that city most closely approximated a microcosm of modern Western society; he recalls most forcibly his contemporary engaged poet of the city, Paul Goodman, although Ignatow's not as eccentric. The later work is too often diffuse and, especially in the prose poems, sentimental, even bathetic: New Ageish. One wishes Ignatow had either included more early work or deleted more recent stuff. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews