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Ooga-Booga: Poems Paperback – October 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0374530976 ISBN-10: 0374530971 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374530971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374530976
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Seidel's 14th book finds his caustic vigor undiminished, his high-volume confidence as entertaining—or disturbing—as ever: gleeful antiwar protests and self-mocking, obvious rhymes zip easily among a bombed Baghdad, a deluxe version of Paris and a hyperbolically glitzy jetset New York. The volume's emotions swing, too, between the aging poet's obsession with death and his adjacent obsession with sexual prowess: "I spend most of my time not dying./... / I climb on a woman I love./ I repeat my themes," he announces. Many of the poems aspire at once to shock us and to sound blithely assured, with utterances no other poet would think to—nor perhaps want to—set down: "The vagina-eyed Modigliani nude/ Made me lewd," for example. Seidel (The Cosmos Trilogy, 2003) perhaps satirizes a Western capitalism in which no one can be rich enough, fast enough or man enough to satisfy his own ideals. Yet for every reader who finds brilliant, social critique, there may be another who wonders if it's all a joke. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With the opening poem, "Kill Poem," readers familiar with Seidel may experience a flashback to "Scotland," the first poem in These Days (1989), given how elements of history, civilization, hunting, and killing are intertwined. And, indeed, this new collection has all the usual Seidel subjects, from fox hunts to violins to Paris and politics (Seidel even confesses twice, "I repeat themes")--but this doesn't diminish the intensity, skill, or bravery of his masterfully shocking style of poetic acrobatics. While some of Seidel's poems border on navel-gazing, others (like "Mother Nature," "The Bush Administration," and "The Death of the Shah") stunningly throw open windows of thought by allowing disparate elements to unite in enlightening ways. One may dislike Seidel's poetry, but most would be hard-pressed to disagree with his work's importance and originality, or deny his artistic courage. We need more poets like Seidel to rub us the wrong way, and induce us to think critically about our history, leaders, and actions. Janet St. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Hummel on December 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I came at this book from an unusual perspective. I'm a motorcycle-enthusiast, not a poetry connoisseur, and I heard about the author from a riding-buddy. (He, I and the author all live on Long Island and ride motorcycles.) I'm not the typical consumer of a book of poetry and I approached this one with some apprehension.

That dissolved almost immediately, however, when I got into the writing. It is easily-accessible and hugely entertaining. I found myself enjoying the time spent with a seasoned individual whose unique perspective is not only sagacious but fun. I never expected poetry to tackle subjects of real interest to me (e.g., sex) but this book does. Both the topics and the author's exploration of them amused and enlightened me. Chances are you'll enjoy it, too.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Book dallier on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Seidel has no shame, as he shouldn't. No one is spared in this book--politicians, minorities, women, disease patients and happy people are all subject to Seidel's wicked treatment, which is his genius. Seidel is dour and curmudgeonly. Reading a Seidel poem is like hurtling over a cascade of brutal, brilliantly clear images. Whether by their beauty or their despair, each one manages to be frightening. The first reading of a Seidel poem is bound to provoke an intense emotional/visceral response, even among casual readers, while subsequent readings will reveal purebred poetic craft. His honesty insults you, me, and everyone else; anything less would insult art.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bartolo on January 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd been unsuccessful in finding a poet who inhabited my insane urban world; many carried the musty odor of academe, and/or lived in rural areas fomenting images of cows and trees, or in any case couldn't re-invent language to be sufficiently intense, or graphic, or vivid to address our existence. Ashbury and Muldoon were too difficult. Strand was too bland. Greger was only occasionally powerful. Komunyakaa came close but could never quite close the sale.

Then I happened on a review of "Ooga-Booga." And bought it. Bingo!

Why are there only two reviews here? Are Americans so indifferent to poetry, or so sentimentalized as not to recognize the real thing when it slaps them in the face?

I'm unsure exactly where Seidel should be placed in the pantheon: whether he has the gravitas of Yeats or the formal dazzle of ee cummings; perhaps he's just a bit shy of greatness, a la Auden. But whether these poems become classics or whether their big punch will fizzle some with age, they certainly are knockouts now. (Either "The Bush Administration" or "Barbados" would alone have been worth the price of admission) Seidel is the poet for our times: caustic wit, a twistiness of metaphor that can leave you gasping, irreverence, playfulness, a refusal to be bound by the pompous mantle of Literature, a complex understanding of relations between our inner and outer worlds, and--not least--a sense of moral outrage.

"The Cosmos Trilogy" is great too.

Mr. Seidel: stay healthy, keep writing! God knows you're a rare beast.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian on December 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
have you ever seen someone turn their back on something you love and do it better than you ever could?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By maelje on June 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is, to put it directly, not only one of the best poetry collections I've ever read but one of the most memorable books I've encountered in my life. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it isn't. Frederick Seidel is an enormously talented poet, and one who takes on serious issues -- but it's his dark sense of humor that sets him apart from almost all his peers.

Modern poetry, in my opinion, has become something of a stuffed shirt, too pretentious, too big for its own britches, though now I'm mixing my metaphors, so shame on me. Too many poets have been conditioned to believe that their work is not substantive if it dares to display any humor.

Seidel is a wonderful exception. If you're easily offended, of course, it's not for you. And even if you aren't, there's a good chance you're going to run across an image or two in these pages that will make you flinch. But one of the jobs of a writer is to challenge existing thinking, morals, attitudes etc. "Ooga-Booga" does just that.
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