Save Our Ship
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Poetry. Both laughter and tears can catch you by surprise in Barbara Ungar's SAVE OUR SHIP. As you live with these witty, satiric, and at times wrenching poems, you will find that their humor darkens while their sadness grows strangely lighter. Ungar's examination of contemporary mores, mordant while avoiding self-pity, displays a range of moods that recalls the poetry of the late William Matthews, for whom the poet contributes an elegy, 'Dear Bill, ' which may be the best I have read of that mordant, witty, and keenly insightful poet. What have we here? In part we have an apology for a generation, the Baby Boomers, who have populated their emotional lives with their intellectual acumen and savage wit and failed romances and sense of the absurd and the awful recognition that it might be too late to do anything for the planet. The book begins with the revelation of an anti-feminist Medieval alphabet and employs a running joke on the alphabet itself subversively underlined by the Morse Code. Yet emotional ambush lurks around every corner, from spousal abuse ('How It Happens'), to the contradictions of modern philosophy ('Brush Up Your Heidegger'), to the Holocaust ('I Go On the Road of All the Earth'), to the urban spirituality to be found in a Zumba session ('After Zumba'). One of the astringent reminders of SAVE OUR SHIP, including its title poem, is the disaster of climate change. There is an unsettling retrospective vision of what we have come to, a realization that Cassandra still walks among us telling her truth, being heard and yet being ignored. You will not be able to ignore Ungar's wonderful poems. They are memorable. They make us think again about our lives and the brave, complicated humor that may somehow redeem us.--Mark Jarma.
Ashland Poetry Press, 9780912592749, 82pp.
Publication Date: November 29, 2019
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