August Zero

August Zero

by Jane Miller

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miller's ( American Odalisque ) text begins with poems that address the fin de siecle (`` . . . The twentieth century, begun in Vienna, has ended in California. / . . . gas meters on your left and electric meters on your right . . . ''), and proceeds to a sequence of love poems describing the relationship between two women in an unpredictable time. Though much of the narrative is elusive, often making reference to intimate details, several poems recall contemporary events. After a litany reviewing the eerie press coverage of the Gulf War, the speaker laments the failure of language to adequately convey human suffering: ``as I speak from a third-floor room the smell / throughout the city the country the region /carnal diarrhea & vegetal puke & mineral dry heave / no salt for tears no sea for sewage.'' Unfortunately, the shrill language she has chosen brings the reader no closer to the pain being described. In the end, the poems are constructed with neither enough technical agility nor adequate intellectual underpinning to break down the boundaries between language and being. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Miller reaches for the unusual phrase, the non sequitur, but her subjects are traditional--love and the possibilities of language: ``now when the firemen put out the stars I think of it, . . ./ it showed me how exhausted we had been, touching language/directly.'' Such incongruity is a theme as well as a symptom, particularly with respect to the poet in contemporary life: ``You live in a sunny place/ and work in a sealed building. 10 mph on Interstate 405/by 2000. The twentieth century, begun in Vienna, has ended/ in California./ . . . gas meters on your left and electric meters on your right.'' Dailiness fills a hot, mountainous desert with scud missiles, helicopters, and environmental disasters, a psychological landscape in which the world's anxiety is juxtaposed with bits of the speaker's sexual life to create a dry, disembodied eroticism. Miller's ambition is admirable, but her attempts to arrive at a new language can leave the reader stranded. For sophisticated collections.-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York Religion
Winner of the Western States Book Award in poetry. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Product Details

Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.30(d)

Meet the Author

Jane Miller is the author of eight previous books of poetry and essays. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award. She lives in Tucson and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at The University of Arizona, having served as the program's director 1999-2003.

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