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Green Sees Things in Waves


Publisher:Farrar Straus Giroux



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About the book:

Green Sees Things in Waves signals a great leap forward for August Kleinzahler. He has always been a fine musician. Here, however, he goes beyond the image-based poem, and renders a fluid consciousness in a manner that is at once precise and expansive. The most striking formal quality is the syntax. On a smaller scale, it enables the poet to pull off some wonderful, almost hieratic touches: note how he ascribes "that narrow russet instrument of face" to his subject in "Vulture Under the Palisades." On a larger scale, his syntactical play allows Kleinzahler to pepper his poetry with pop culture, Americana, the everyday, and his touching and intimate observations of people. All of these qualities are expertly packed into this sinuous sentence from the memorable "Snow in North Jersey":

It is with a terrible deliberateness
that Mr. Ruiz reaches into his back pocket
and counts out $18 and change for his LOTTO picks
while in the upstairs of a thousand duplexes
with the TV on, cancers tick tick tick
and the snow continues to fall and blanket
these crowded rows of frame and brick
with their heartbreaking porches and castellations
and the red '68 Impala on blocks
and Joe he's drinking again and Myrna's boy Tommy
in the old days it would have been a disgrace
and Father Keenan's not been having a good winter
and it was nice enough this morning
till noon anyhow with the sun sitting up there like a crown
over a great big dome of mackerel sky.
Here as elsewhere, the poet constantly shifts focus, both visually and in terms of diction. Yet even as reality and dream "mingle and dissipate," Kleinzahler always affirms the ultimate reality of the imagination. --Mark Rudman

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