Eccentricities and Psychopatholgies

Clinical Studies

By Andrew Steinmetz

A review of Clinical Studies by George Slobodzian

Published on April 1, 2002

Clinical Studies
George Slobodzian

DC Books
$14.95
paper
78pp
0-919688-82-9

Clinical Studies, a slim volume of free verse, is George Slobodzian’s first book-length collection of poems. While it is true Slobodzian is in control of his lines, technical merit is limited to the run-on jokes of enjambment, an effect that quickly becomes tiresome and predictable, especially when the navel-gazing triggers vertigo.

A selection of first lines gives a good idea of this book’s range of themes, prevailing attitude, and target audience: “I’m having trouble with the vulva” (“Art Class”); “Spooning papaya uterine rind/onto genital tongue” (“Credo Tropicanum”); “Contemplating hell-stench on the shitter” (“Calvin”); “Breaking wind and bringing up/a sort of human cheese” (“Plenitude”); “If you really must know, I’m in the bathtub” (“No More Tears”).

“Poems for the Dead Guy Who Used to Live Here” takes a good idea and goes nowhere, as once again Slobodzian falls back on glib humour: “Deceased he still/gets more mail/than I do. Reader’s/Digest Sweepstakes/people telling him/he could be a dead millionaire.”

In “The Trail,” Slobodzian is on to something when he confesses to that familiar habit (many poets, in Canada as elsewhere, will surely recognize it) of leaving “little poems/in little magazines.” In the same poem, he writes: “Like a man who wants/to get caught, I leave/samples of my voice/on answering machines/in dark apartments…”

Well then, it’s intervention time. The psychopathology is clear. Let the shtick stop here. mRb

Andrew Steinmetz is Vehicule's Fiction Editor and a poet.

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