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O Wheel Paperback – April 1, 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Must form itself become the work of anguish?" Sacks's fourth collection of poetry argues that indeed it must. Compression, elision, and tense lexical compounding are the devices Sacks, following if not equaling Mandelstam and Celan, selects for this work of proleptic mourning--for a father in the excruciating final stages of a disease that leaves him, like the Marsyas of Greek myth, "flayed by Apollo," and for a South Africa shedding the skin of apartheid in convulsions that bring "the wild speeding up of change to absolute." The poet means us to hear the death-rattle of impending retribution in the latter phrase and elsewhere; the poem "Relief," for one, ends abruptly on the words: "Waiting to be killed." The odd-numbered sequences of the five-section book engage fragmented forms of lyric utterance (one notes the debt to Jorie Graham) to sound an ominous landscape, similar to the actual combat zones Sacks recalled in Natal Command: "I felt it/ in the warning/ downward// leaf & branch/ beneath// their fingers/ rapid// murderous/ (& there was music // --hacking)." These alternate with sections charting--with dire, if chronically oblique, precision--the nightmarish vicissitudes of terminal illness. Though his command of the elegiac register is subtle and studied (he devoted a scholarly monograph to the subject in the mid-1980s), Sacks is a less adept political allegorist: the three sections of wide-scope meditation are prone to phobic and dystopic stereotypes as the disoriented poet grasps at myth and mystique to make sense of South Africa's complex social transformation. Even so, the personal and political anguish of this volume is hard to gainsay. Imagining the knife blade pressed to his neck, Sacks does what he must: "sing out, the blade says,/ sing."

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Ask Me
The Change
For The Dead
Look In Your Heart
The Ocean, Naming It
The Tree
The Trial
Two Mountains: 1. Utah
Two Mountains: 2. In Flight, L.a. Cape Town
Two Mountains: 3. Cape Town
Two Mountains: 4. Umfolozi, Natal
Two Mountains: 5. L.a./jo'burg
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; First Printing edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820321842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820321844
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,489,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
O Wheel is a collection of powerful, visionary, aesthetically intricate poetry by a master wordsmith who contents with nihilism, extracting hope from even the most desperate aspects of human nature. The poetry of Peter Sacks is superbly engaging, profoundly moving, literate and memorable. Look In Your Heart: Unshelled/floatrock and mother-lode./The mountain sagged then broke apart,/each ounce so concentrated nothing held/whatever stamp of its disfiguring/the mind made uncontainable./Gloved tongues./The body wrapped and set where space had been./Crush out the breath crush out the words/they feed and carry it away./Where we have fallen./Crawling out.
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