Country, Living

Alice James. Jun. 2020. 100p. ISBN 9781948579100. pap. $16.95.
A widely respected, anthologized, and awarded writer of both poetry and fiction, Sadoff is regarded as something of an elder statesman among poets. Here he returns with his eighth collection of poetry (after True Faith) to continue his exploration of culture and memory. In his mild, melancholic surrealism, he is at times reminiscent of James Tate, at times of Frederick Seidel. His manner allows him to throw disjunctive matter together, but the effect, in the best poems, goes beyond surprise to oblique illumination of the poet’s private sorrows and the country’s public ones: “Maybe we make up things to figure out the great/ divide, when to cross it.” Throughout, Sadoff looks back at driving cultural forces and acknowledges what he may not have understood at the time. Music, especially jazz, is a recurring motif, and the bond between freedom and invention is not a bad image for Sadoff’s own procedures in the lyric.
VERDICT An excellent introduction to the concerns and style of one of the most characteristic voices in poetry today, this collection is both timely and touching.
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