Failure Poems

Philip Schultz

Book - 2007

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.54/Schultz Checked In
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt c2007.
Main Author
Philip Schultz (-)
1st ed
Physical Description
106 p. ; 21 cm
  • It's Sunday Morning in Early November
  • 1. Talking to Ourselves
  • 2. Specimen
  • 3. The Summer People
  • 5. The Magic Kingdom
  • 7. Louse Point
  • 9. The Idea of California
  • 11. Kodak Park Athletic Association, 1954
  • 14. Grief
  • 15. The Absent
  • 16. My Dog
  • 17. The Garden
  • 18. Exquisite with Agony
  • 19. Bronze Crowd: After Magdalena Abakanowicz
  • 21. Why
  • 23. My Wife
  • 25. Husband
  • 27. Uncle Sigmund
  • 28. The Amount of Us
  • 30. What I Like and Don't Like
  • 31. Blunt
  • 32. Shellac
  • 34. The Adventures of 78 Charles Street
  • 36. Isaac Babel Visits My Dreams
  • 39. Dance Performance
  • 41. The Traffic
  • 43. The Truth
  • 45. The One Truth
  • 46. Failure
  • 48. The Wandering Wingless
  • 50. Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

Assuming the I in the short poems here is Schultz it obviously isn't in the 50-pager that so impressively concludes the book then he seems to have started a family when well past 50, which is rather startling, given the book's title and predominant woundedness. To have two small boys turn up regularly amid all the memorials, hauntings, bittersweet and just plain bitter recollections, and resigned complaints about society, human inadequacy, and chance is disconcerting, refreshing, and poignant (are they bound for the same kinds of disappointment? of course). If personal failure is the main theme here, it is finally no reason to be defeated. Although incurably depressive, you can still walk dogs in Manhattan and love them, even after 9/11, which caused you to be rushed out of recovery from electroshock therapy that day, as happened to the narrator of the big poem, The Wandering Wingless. Life goes on for Schultz, and he continues to write about it with greater conversational sweetness than any other American poet one can readily call to mind.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2007 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The careful, compassionate sixth outing from Schultz (Living in the Past) reverses the plot many poetry books imply. Rather than show an emotional problem (in the first poems) followed by its gradual solution, Schultz begins with warm, even heartwarming, short depictions of love, marriage, fatherhood, and mourning, in which even the elegies find reasons to love life. Schultz addresses the deceased poet David Ignatow: "I didn?t go/ to your funeral, but, late at night, I/ bathe in the beautiful ashes of your words." As a reader moves through the volume, and especially in "The Wandering Wingless"- the sequence whose 58 segments and 54 pages conclude the book\-Schultz?s gladness gives way to regret and grim fear. Devoted (like several of Schultz?s short poems) to the virtues of dogs and of dog-ownership, and to the horrors of September 11, "Wingless" meanders through the poet?s own depression and his young adult life before settling on his continuing grief for his unstable, suicidal father. "Why/ did Dad own, believe in,/ admit to, understand/ and love nothing?" It is a question no poet could answer, though Schultz sounds brave, and invites sympathy, as he tries. The clear, even flat, free verse suggests Philip Booth, though Schultz?s Jewish immigrant heritage, and his attachment to New York City, place him far from Booth?s usual rural terrain. Few readers will find his language especially varied or inventive; many, however, could see their own travails in his plainly framed, consistently articulated sorrows and joys. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Its Sunday Morning in Early Novemberand there are a lot of leaves already. I could rake and get a head start. The boys summer toys need to be putin the basement. I could clean it out or fix the broken storm window. When Eli gets home from Sunday school, I could take him fishing. I don't fishbut I could learn to. I could show him how much fun it is. We don't do as much as we used to do. And my wife, there's so much I haven't told her lately, about how quickly my soul is aging, how it feels like a basement I keep filling with everything I'm tired of surviving. I could take a walk with my wife and try to explain the ghosts I cant stop speaking to. Or I could read all those books piling up about the beginning of the end of understanding . . .Meanwhile, its such a beautiful morning, the changing colors, the hypnotic light. I could sit by the window watching the leaves, which seem to know exactly how to fall from one moment to the next. Or I could lose everything and have to begin over again. Talking to OurselvesA woman in my doctors office last weekcouldn't stop talking about Niagara Falls, the difference between dog and deer ticks,how her oldest boy, killed in Iraq, would lie with her at night in the summer grass, singing Puccini. Her eyes looked at me but saw only the saffron swirls of the quivering heavens.Yesterday, Mr. Miller, our tidy neighbor, stopped under our lopsided maple to explainhow his wife of sixty years died last month of Alzheimers. I stood there, listening to his longing reach across the darkness with each bruised breath of his eloquent singing.This morning my five-year-old asked himself why he'd come into the kitchen. I understoodhe was thinking out loud, personifying himself,but the intimacy of his small voice was surprising.When my fathers vending business was failing, he'd talk to himself while driving, his lips silently moving, his black eyes deliquescent. He didn't care that I was there, listening, what he was saying was too important. Too important, I hear myself sayingin the kitchen, putting the dishes away,and my wife looks up from her readingand asks, Whats that you said? SpecimenI turned sixty in Paris last year. We stayed at the Lutetia, where the Gestapo headquarteredduring the war, my wife, two boys, and me, and several old Vietnamese ladies carrying poodles with diamond collars. Once my father caught a man stealing cigarettes out of one of his vending machines. He didn't stop choking him until the pool hall stunk of excrement and the body dropped to the floor like a judgment. When I was last in Paris I was dirt poor, hiding from the Vietnam War. One night, in an old church, I considered taking my life. I didn't know how to be so young and not belong anywhere, stuck among so many perplexing melodies.I loved the low white buildings, the ingratiating colors, the ancient light. We couldn't afford such luxury.It was a matter of pride.My father di Excerpted from Failure by Philip Schultz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.