A Cage for Loulou (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
At the age of fifty-six, with a distinguished record in teaching and literary scholarship as well as two published novels (The Vigil of Emmeline Gore and The Party) behind him, Rudolph von Abele seems rather an unlikely figure to be publishing a first collection of poems. He was, after all, already a graduate student at Columbia University when Allen Ginsberg entered there as an undergraduate more than thirty years ago. The intervening years have been a particularly active and exciting period in American poetry; hosts of groups and individuals have brought forth manifestos, both political and aesthetic, linking the course of our literary tradition with the Beats and the “Counterculture,” with the antiwar movement and the sexual revolution. With these changes in what, somewhere along the way, began to be known as the “national consciousness” have come corresponding changes in our notions about poetry. Through all of this instructive turmoil, von Abele’s talent as a poet appears to have lain dormant, and now that his first book of poems has appeared, he presents something of a puzzle. While his work seems to reveal no direct influence by his contemporaries, von Abele still writes a kind of poetry that is very much of our time.
One reason why von Abele’s poetry seems so appropriate for the late 1970’s is that it focuses so consistently upon its author. The poems in A Cage for Loulou do not, for the most part, dwell...
(The entire section is 2298 words.)
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