Sidney Goldfarb, Speech, For Instance (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1969)
[originally posted 14Jun2001]
Not a bad little book. Goldfarb seemed to be actively resisting whatever it was that dragged poetry, collectively, through the mediocre muck that affected it in the late fifties and early sixties while trying to capture whatever it was that made that very stuff exciting (it may not have been poetry, but “Howl” is great fun to listen to). He didn’t always quite manage to pull it off, but he does more often than not.
This loose collection from the late sixties is a few years removed from all that, with just enough Chicago Eight-style disillusionment to bring it back, for the most part, into serious territory. It is on Goldfarb’s flights of fancy, though, that he truly shines.
O my friends the officers of the outskirts of Albuquerque
With your slung pistolas and enormous bellies
With your rigid enforcement of a 15MPH school zone limit
Standing outside Albuquerque on the day before the first day of Spring
Beware of young men who pass you by in trucks
They are so easily overcome by beauty
And they may like myself pose a certain threat
(from “The Girl in the Green Dress”)
There is a great deal of energy here, but it’s tempered enough with craft to make the work readable, at least. ***