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Ooga-Booga: Poems

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  353 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
"The best American poet writing today"*

"The title itself—a parody of a threat, something the monster under the bed might grunt—manages to capture the weird dialectic of Mr. Seidel's black comedy: He is scary, but funny, but still scary . . . You would have go back to confessional masters like Lowell and Berryman to find poetry as daringly self-revealing, as risky and comp
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published November 14th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book a week and it has already saved my life 37 times. I am so tickled I have had to remove my wig. As we Americans say, "Thank you sooooo much."
After finishing this book, I started to read Seidel's bio. I stopped when I got to the second paragraph where it said he suggested corrections to Ezra Pound's translation of Confucius despite not understanding the Chinese language. My gut says that's all you need to know about him.

I didn't understand much of this book and yet you can feel the language. It punches you or taunts you or just dances around in choreographed numbers so offbeat that you reread lines to see if they were put together wit
Brent Legault
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it
I would've liked to've liked this book more
Than I did but it lacked a report
With me though I'll forgive it that and I'm forgiving
It, (for the hours it took hardly need reliving)
Recommended as it was by a pal and poet
Who loves the book and staked our friendship on it
Or did he? I forget but it isn't important
What's important here is that I only half-liked it

You see, I don't mean to be prudish or rudish or a boor
But I would've liked to've liked this book a bit more
Than I did and I'll tell you why,
Justin Evans
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-and-drama
A dual-review of 'Evening Man' and 'Ooga-Booga.'

Yet more evidence that honest reportage from the disaffected has more critical force than puritanical censorship: it's impossible to read this and feel anything but disgust for Seidel, his world (i.e., the ultra-rich), and the world surrounding that world, in which everything is for sale, for the purposes of sex and hedonism. He's a bit like Houllebecq, if Houllebecq was much smarter and a better writer, and was a poet, rather than a novelist with
Ryan Chapman
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Seidel is a total flaneur, but the way he writes about getting a custom Ducatti motorcycle makes you realize how full-throated life can be.

Everyone I know should read Seidel. You can even hear him read his own work at his website.
I'm glad I discovered Seidel; more than any other poet I've read, he closely resembles the ideal Poet of Wit that I was once unjustly disappointed in James Fenton for not embodying. The delicate balance of parlour manners and political relevance to which Seidel aspires is a near-impossible feat to pull off. Savagely witty, Seidel's poetry has all the sharpness, brightness, and injuriousness of a needle; however, I suspect it has a needle's limitations, too: while reading this book, I often wonde ...more
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is to be done with a poet that writes: "My own poetry I find incomprehensible. / Actually, I have no one. / Everything in art is couplets. / Mine don't rhyme."? I was initially incredulous, especially when I'd happen upon the occasional stanza with an AAAA rhyme scheme. But beneath the perceived simplicity is a hilariousness, an absurdness, and a frequent and brilliant beauty that kept me smiling as I read this on the NE Corridor Line.

I find that its advisable to sit back and enjoy the ride
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us, him
I experienced a number of really unpleasant feelings while reading this book. The worst part is that if I hadn't read Ooga-Booga, I think I could have enjoyed another fifty years free from these particular worries.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
best american poet alive?
Cinita Nestiti
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Love heimliched me and brought me back."

God I love these words in the book! And it seemed that he knows about many things to put every thing in context. I feel so much love and emotions upon reading this.
Sarah Smith
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know how sometimes when you first start reading a book it doesn't really connect, and then some small attitudinal shift occurs (probably in you, but I'll reserve the possibility that an attitudinal shift could occur in the book itself), after which it rises out of obscurity and becomes a favorite thing? I love it when that happens. That happened to me last night reading Ooga-Booga. Before, I would flip through and read a little and random, finding it simultaneously flat and precious. But the ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pink stick of gum unwrapped from the foil,
That you hold between your fingers on the way home from dance class,
And you look at its pink. But you know what.
I like your brain. Your pink. It’s sweet.

My brain is the wrinkles of the ocean on a ball of tar
Instead of being sweet pink like yours.
It could be the nicotine. It could be the Johnnie Walker Black.
Mine thought too many cigarettes for too many years.

My brain is the size of the largest living thing, mais oui, a blue whale,
Blue instead
R.G. Evans
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to R.G. by: Mark Hillringhouse
If I found it off-putting to read poems written by a billionaire heir to the Dow Chemical fortune ("One company of ours made napalm," "Love Song" casually states), Frederick Seidel's wicked humor and equally wicked sense of the poetic line easily won me over. How could I (wicked myself!) not love lines such as this one about Mussolini copulating: "He goes uff wuff, uff wuff, and even--briefly--falls in luff ("Il Duce"). There's a little too much self-congratulatory globe-trotting on custom-made ...more
Keith Michael
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Frederick Seidel's effortless rhymes are inspiring. So much so that for several months I wrote imitative rhyming poems. They were horrible. In "Kill Poem," which opens the book, Seidel's sophisticated verse infuses a snobbishness into the very language of the poem. The sounds themselves ooze the same sort of stiff-lipped detachment and tasteful disdain that complement the poem's meaning. he's a strange master.

"Huntsman indeed is gone from Savile Row.

And Mr. Hall, the head cutter.

The red hunt coa
"I tried to find something to die for. There wasn't."

I found this book through a must-read list so I have high expectations that I just don't think were met.

I haven't read anything else by the author so I'm not familiar with him or his work, but I wasn't blown away by this collection. It felt like the poems were trying too hard to be edgy. It felt sort of juvenile, and not in a funny appealing way like Bukowski, but like the author though it was funny to cram the word 'penis' as many times as po
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I was steeling myself to dislike Seidel because he so often seems like another rich guy who's found a way to amuse himself in lieu of actually working for a living.
Obviously I don't dislike him in the least, and if you have any doubts read his Homage to Pessoa from this collection.
Seidel is idiosyncratic, which is another way of saying he is uneven. He is and he'll never make it to the firmament of great poets (a place that includes all the great, decentered Language Poets, too). But if you enjo
Darran Mclaughlin
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, american
An excellent collection of contemporary poetry. Seidel writes in a forceful, distinctive, witty manner. It brings to mind something of TS Eliot, something of Robert Lowell and something of Byron with his swaggering hauteur and ostentatious wealth and womanizing. It is delightful to read something so singular and subjective. Seidel is independently wealthy which means he is lucky enough not to have to give a fuck what anyone thinks about his honest and sometimes unpalatable thoughts and feelings. ...more
Lucas Miller
May 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nearly every description of Seidel's poetry I've read makes some mention of its offensiveness, of something frightening basic to its nature. These notices are not lying. I found myself turned around and suddenly lost in the middle of many of these poems, What begin as straightforward narratives by the imagined poet as narrator take sharp turns into strange, brutal territory. Aging, sex, motorcycles, Italy, and always death punch through complex rhyme schemes and meters. It's debonair, it is ofte ...more
Eric T. Voigt
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-eleven
A heap of thanks to Mike Guisinger for his rendition of "Drinking in the Daytime" which influenced me in a big way to pick this up and understand it. "Profoundly beautiful" cries one blurb on the back. I don't have to consider disagreeing with this. It's all there is to say, if you want to tell the truth.
Diann Blakely
How 'bout that poem in the recent NEW YORKER? Not that I'd want to live down here in south coastal Georgia without some relief from the heat!

Frederick Seidel, Poetry, “Before Air-Conditioning,” The New Yorker, July 11, 2011, p. 60
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
These poems are definitely not for the prudish or the fainthearted. Seidel's poems are raw, savage, fearless, with a lyrical beauty that makes the whole collection twisted. He writes about what horrifies many with musical bluntness. A wild ride from start to finish.

"While I can think of a more likable book of poems, I ca scarcely imagine a better one..." Alex Halberstadt, New York
Carrie Lorig
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
what a debonair jack o lantern. i was not repulsed or even terrified like i was supposed to be. i found him to be human. a poem mechanic in a greasy suit.

my own poetry i find incomprehensible./actually, i have no one.
Danielle Sidow
I personally did not love this book as much as i would have liked. Seidel is a talented poet, but is poetry is just...just so dirty. As a fellow poet who feels most comfortable writing horror, I felt that some of his work is just crossing so many lines.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh shit dudes. . .everything about this feels right. I can't say it enough - this guy is hilarious, deeply satisfying, insightful and out of his mind. Such a great poet. . .

Any fans out there who are women? Curious. . .
Christopher Sanderson
This is rampant poetry, poem from all sorts of wonderfully passionate directions, including the Ducati factory in Italy where he, the poet, is having a limited edition motor-bike built...whatever happened to the poverty of poets ...a rich rich collection, but what does ooga-booga mean Frederick.
The persona that comes through in these poems--which is presented as Seidel himself and not as the writer wearing a mask of characterization--is hideous. Pompous and privileged, Seidel's work is overblown.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

There's so much to like here, but when a poet uses the line:

Women my own age naked are a nightmare

Twice. TWICE!! In TWO poems!! I just can't find it in myself to applaud the book as a whole.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- at turns - disturbing, gleefully self-mocking, Seidel's poetry appears designed to shock
- some real gems, amidst piles of rubble, I thought
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, playful, serious poet. Reminds me of TS Eliot at times, Paul Muldoon at others. I will read this one again many times.
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets!
Shelves: oneofmyfavorites
I don't read much poetry, but this stuff is fantastic. Reading it is like putting together a puzzle, and when you're done all the little bits make something remarkable.
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