Cheap : New Poems and Ballads

4.25 (4 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 162 pages
  • 132.08 x 198.12 x 10.16mm | 136.08g
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • 0151170347
  • 9780151170340

Review Text

Seventy-one poems from a poet who is, regrettably, not so much prolific as talkative. Ruth Stone has impressive credentials - two previous books, wide publication in the New Yorker and elsewhere, a 1975 Guggenheim - and at her best she brings spare diction and an acerbic tongue to her subjects: marriage, housekeeping, rural life, a bus trip to California. . . . About one third, maybe even half, of this new volume fulfills expectations; "Habit," "Dream of Wild Birds," "San Andreas Fault," and the taut ode to "The Innocent" ("I remember you/ as the porcupine is remembered for its quills") are Stone at her best and most economical. Too often, however, she is prosy and self-conscious - shunting her ideas into rhyme that is awkward and less clever than it should be ("I didn't rah and I hardly raved/ I loved my pa while my mother slaved"), or ballasting them with a too portentous last line, or slouching clumsily toward imagery ("As though approaching a mirror,/ The post office recedes/ To an unreal building in my mind"). When it hangs together, Stone's writing is accessible in the best sense; and she can confront bitterness, loss, fear, even the pathetic tragedy of a retired couple ("And the next thing we hear,/ The wife's went bazook!") without sacrificing her essential sanity and wit. A smaller, more selective collection would have shown these strengths to greater advantage. But, deadwood aside, there is evidence of a congenial intellect here. . . and an extroverted voice unafraid to speak in language the neighbors will understand. (Kirkus Reviews)
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