‘Ooga-Booga’ By Frederick Seidel

ooga boogaI’d read about Seidel before (a profile in the New Yorker, some years back, I think when a large volume of collected poems came out), but had never read him. If you’ve read about him, the poems in Ooga-Booga are everything you’ve heard: frequently written in the disdainfully elitist voice of a born to wealth Manhattanite who is better than you by birth and wealth; frequently sexists; frequently voicing lines and phrases that, while perhaps not racist, are certainly retrograde and insensitive; and consistently brilliant. You finish the book overwhelmed by his talent and how much better he is than ‘nicer’ poets. He frequently rhymes, including playing with slant rhyme and rhymes within lines, yet avoids regular rhyme schemes, with the effect being both assonant and yet more conversational than more traditionally rhymed poems would be.

I’d have to quote an entire poem to get the full effect for you, so it’s up to you to read him (he’s almost certainly in your library system, people; it’s not that hard).

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