Diary Of Desire

by Judith Fitzgerald
48 pages,
ISBN: 0887531644

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Writing To You
by Phil Hall

E LOVER, the "you" of this long poem divided into monthly sections, probably finds here a wealth of private evocation based on shared experience. A lover being spoken of so often and intensely could forgive this book its arrogances and postures. Not me. To me this book with its sensual promo cover photo spells Indulgence, capital "I": a toss and tumble attempt at Eros blaring.

The poet thanks, dedicates, refers and heavy handedly alludes to as many as 90 sources and people within a mere outsized 48 pages. These acknowledgements range from popular/trendy cultural cows Re C & W tunes and baseball, to erudite hackneyed quotes (like "April is the cruellest month") and blatant (not again) imitations of Molly Bloom moaning "yes, yes, yes."

But let's consider the language, the poems themselves. The major tendencies I notice are: passionate, playful freeassociation ("need, needy, necessity, necessitate; / and then cease, seizure, decease, cessation / / I need need, am needy of needing you"); a trick of saying nothing so succinctly it sounds wise ("It will snow snow," "Call me the light of lightness," "A hunger for hunger"); the expropriation of scientific and linguistic jargon ("A Shot of Morphemes," "Bilateral Salpingo Oophorectomy") mostly for no purposeful end in the end; and finally, Fitzgerald often settles here for cheap internal and rhythmical offrhymes that, while the poem itself imputes high passion, mostly set up a contrasting lazy singsong ("devotion ... emotions," "Infant sorrow. Tomorrow," "science/ ... silence").

This is too harsh, maybe. Maybe not. But to explain my strong reaction I can tell you where I went for solace: back to Anne Sexton's Love Poems (1969). Sexton's book is similar to Fitzgerald's in its chronicle of a passion and its use of time for structure ("Eighteen Days Without You," by Sexton, is 18 dated sequential poems) and it is also obliquely confessional, associatively paced but there are Sexton fines out to please no one, out to save a life, out to get at experience, not just muck it about.

One Fitzgerald fine sums up her book's drama and my reaction to it: "your love. This goes on and on. A need. You continue away. The tragedy."


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