Kathleen Ossip's second collection is a multidimensional exploration of contemporary American culture, as shaped through the narratives of post World War II America, from cold war paranoia to post 9/11 politics. Ossip uses the texts of others, Karl Menninger's The Human Mind (1947) and Vance Packard's The Status Seekers (1959), as jumping-off points for a series of short poems titled "American History" and a poem written in character dialogue, respectively.
A book of impressive breadth, The Cold War, for all its sprawling forms and unexpected source texts and materials, also communicates the poet's emotional relationship to her country and her art. From the title poem, which ends the collection, Ossip writes,
Remembrance, a gift: TV offered
its blue comfort.
In those days, when you dialed the phone,
someone answered it.Abstraction was
We refused to sacrifice sanity, a sacrifice
Poorly integrated, history wells up. If you
can, make the leap with me:
This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2011, issue 41.