In the Western Night

Frank Bidart, Author
Frank Bidart, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-374-17660-0
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
In resourcefully inventive poems, Bidart confronts head-on the insoluble problems of being: the thirst for meaning, the fathomless abyss of death, the polarities of good and evil. Dramatic monologues wrest feverish, luminous meditations out of an anorectic, hospitalized poet (``Ellen West''), a sociopathic rapist/killer (``Herbert White'') and a creative artist grappling with guilt, insanity, Nietzsche and the search for an authentic self (``The War of Vaslav Nijinsky''). Bidart also draws on wrenching autobiographical incident, Christian tradition, Western philosophy. ``Golden State'' evokes the anger, love and confusion occasioned by the death of his alcoholic father. A poet who believes the poem embodies ``the mind in action,'' he synthesizes the flexibility of Pound's Cantos , Robert Lowell's sense of argument with the past, and Hart Crane's collage-like structuring into a distinctive, sharp-edged voice raised to an intense pitch. (May)
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