Civil Wars: Poems

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Reviewing poetry is difficult enough, but in Civil Wars, David R. Slavitt makes that task harder still. About halfway through this collection, you encounter “The Poem,” in which Slavitt dismisses the role of critics entirely. “You are about to read a poem, / but the critic comes, austere, a man of authority,” and even though you, the reader, did not know you needed help, the critic “picks up the poem, sniffs it, / Holds it to the light this way and that,” and then chews, swallows, digests, and excretes the poem. “He offers you a well-formed, not especially malodorous / turd in a blue and white chamber pot.” If you believe that this prettily presented turd “will be better for you,” well, then, “you are an English major.”

Throughout Civil Wars there is this subtle theme of deliberation: an insistence that we must use our own careful analysis not only to make sense of the world, but to also have a connection to it.

Civil Wars is funny and wise, irreverent and sad, with thoughtful meditations on life and death, war and baseball, sheep and goats, intimacy and estrangement. But don’t take my word for it. Chew, swallow, digest this volume. Read the hell out of it.


Reviewed By:

Author David Slavitt
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 80 pages
Publisher Louisiana State University Press
Publish Date 2013-Sep-09
ISBN 9780807151808
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2014
Category Poetry & Short Stories
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