Michael Casey Essay - Critical Essays

Casey, Michael

Casey, Michael 1947–

Casey, an American poet, is the author of Obscenities.

Poems such as [Michael Casey's in Obscenities], some funny, some revolting, some touching, depend heavily on the heavy subject-matter, but are true to that dependence. They are immediate, as most poetry is not. The raw material could have been transformed into something else. Yet with something of Mauldin, something of Spoon River, something of Archie, something of Pogo, these poems have a rhetoric of arrangement essential to their success…. The unmusical units are dropped on the page with a sure economy.

Richard Lattimore, in Hudson Review, Autumn, 1972, p. 477.

Michael Casey's Obscenities is a collection of poems which form a unity and should be read in one sitting. They begin with observations on basic training, narrate the experiences of a soldier who has been shipped to Vietnam, and end with a poem on the soldier's discharge from the army. Casey possesses an uncanny ability of capturing speech rhythms which help to create a host of unforgettable characters…. With a noticeable sense of economy, Casey convincingly describes military life and the Vietnam war through humorous and serious anecdotes. But his most powerful lines are concerned with the horrors of war.

James W. Healey, in Prairie Schooner (© 1973 by University of Nebraska Press; reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner), Winter, 1972/73, pp. 356-57.

This collection [Obscenities] is one of the few genuinely important books to have arisen from the United States involvement in Vietnam; for one thing, it reveals convincingly the ways in which ordinary soldiers deal with their part in the conflict. To go on from here, however, Casey will have to have twice the resources he reveals here, for this book is something of a blind alley. Having discovered techniques which seem uniquely suited to this special task, he will have to abandon them before handling other subjects, or descend to self-consciousness and posturing, which qualities are conspicuously absent from this excellent collection.

Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Winter, 1973), p. x.