Jonathan Williams' review of 'Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt'
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'Anyway, All I Ever Wanted to be was a Poet' Said Leon Uris, with a Smile as We Strode Together into the Vomitorium...

by Jonathan Williams?

There is less here [in Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt] than meets the eye. So now it's time to lose votes with the Bolinas? Crowd that thinks Richard is right on. Richards tend to be peculiar and losers by name. There were those English kings; there was Herr Wagner and Herr Straus; there's one named Nixon and one Mayor of Chicago; there were two fucked-up Richards at Black Mountain; I had a personal-Richard who had me in endless despair. One could make an interesting list. Anyway, Richards seldom give much away. Brautigan's as goofy as McKuen -— another child of the Muses, with a sweet smile. He's read some Patchen, he's read some Creeley?. He writes for kids who eat macrobiotic food and (don't) know where it is. Like I say, you'd starve to death on these no-cal poems. E.g.:

April 7, 1969

I feel so bad today
that I want to write a poem. I don't care: any poem, this poem.

There is so much lost
and so much gained in these words.

Or, "Negative Clank"

He'd sell a rat's asshole
to a blindman for a wedding ring.

I'd like to say, Gee, wow, oo-ee-oo, landsakes, that's just very nice. I feel more like Dr. Benway about to operate: What son of a bitch has cut the plasma with Sani-Flush?" It's too thin. Off to a Vic Tanney gym, words! And a few months at the knee of Mr. Rexroth wouldn't hurt you either. Then, if you insist on coming on quite so simple, do it in a way that might interest people who have listened to the beautiful clarities of Scarlatti and Schubert beyond the Bay Area and the sunshine campuses.

Fall/Winter 1972: 94-105

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