Monday, March 15, 2010

Douglas Rothschild: Theogony

Okay, as of last night, we're back. All of us. The girls & I, miraculously intact after a 4-hour drive, met J. in Sarasota, where she was doing the Medieval/Renaissance conference at New College. She conferenced Friday; the heavens opened in a miserable deluge; the girls & I went book shopping. (Nice finds at a little 2nd-hand place: Thomas Meyer's The Bang Book, a lovely Clarendon Vergili Opera. The latter, perhaps playing on some submerged, deep-seated longing for dead tongues, has sent me back to the stacks of Latin primers around the house: A semi-resolution: 1/2 hour of Latin every day.)

I finished Delbanco's Melville in Sarasota, & will have something to say about this gem of a book. And simultaneously discovered that the big critical work I'd hauled along, David Loewenstein's Representing Revolution in Milton & His Contemporaries, is spotted with blank pages thru the second half. Let's see whether Cambridge UP can make this right.
Theogony, Douglas Rothschild (subpress, 2009)

Imagine Frank O'Hara as a dyed-in-the-wool, place-saturated, native New Yorker, who takes all five boroughs as his home ground, all their parks, neighborhoods, bodegas, apartment developments, social distinctions as his purview, rather than a Boston-bred artsy Manhattanite. Then imagine his "I do this I do that" poetics, with all their camp humor & delight in popular culture intact, stripped of their art world in-crowd talk & surrealist flights & focused on the immediate state of mind of the real New Yorker (continually worried about the rent, about what new enormities the mayor's about to perpetrate). Then put, him, equipped with an angry socio-political bullshit detector, into the most savagely repressive & bewildering moment in recent American history – the post September 11th morass. Then set him to work jotting down poems that angrily & painfully pin down the cost to the American psyche of our Republican masters' reactions to the World Trade Center destruction.

That's the long sequence "The Minor Arcana," something of a masterpiece of making the political personal in an age of electronic media. But all of the sections of Theogony are quirky, moving, and deeply impressive, as strongly rooted in polis as Olson's rambles around Dogtown – and a hell of a lot funnier.


1 comment:

jwilkin2 said...

Thank you for telling the blogosphere or at least this blog globule about Theogeny. What a joy. It is a book of the right size and shape and with the right words. It is a book that demands praise in that idiom. I am made happy after two weeks of hating poetry.