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Mystery Train
     

Mystery Train

by David Wojahn
 

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David Wojahn deftly mixes personal history and recollections with a wide range of character studies and monologues, but the center of this book is a sequence of thirty-five poems, mainly sonnets, in which rock and roll music is a strange, kaleidoscopic mirror of recent American history.  Combining rhapsodic homage, grim humor, human folly, and tragedy, these

Overview

David Wojahn deftly mixes personal history and recollections with a wide range of character studies and monologues, but the center of this book is a sequence of thirty-five poems, mainly sonnets, in which rock and roll music is a strange, kaleidoscopic mirror of recent American history.  Combining rhapsodic homage, grim humor, human folly, and tragedy, these poems are like nothing else in contemporary poetry.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the opening poem of this highly accomplished and daring collection, the speaker is called upon by a deaf friend to record a mystifying Buddhist ceremony: `` Write this down , he scrawls, something must be made of this. '' Indeed, in the poems that follow, Wojahn ( Icehouse Lights ) attempts to ``resurrect'' both his personal and the readers' collective past and infuse these with meaning. At the center of the book is a commanding sequence of 35 poems that interweave historical incidents with real and imagined episodes in the lives of legendary rock 'n' roll figures to recreate the zeitgeist of the last four decades of popular American culture. But what we're finally left with, Wojahn suggests, is ``page after page / of undecipherable description'' and a ``fading'' past: ``And you try to remember what it is that you believed in . . . / You wait. You watch until it's gone.'' As in his earlier works, Wojahn proves himself a master of the narrative poem, extending his range here with expertly fashioned dramatic monologues and quirky, rhythmic sonnets. (June)
Library Journal
In the title sequence of this collection, Wojahn writes about events and people in American popular culture such as Lou Reed, John Berryman, and the Vietnam War, working them into near-rhyme sonnets that show the absurdity and poignancy of our culture. He interweaves these elements around the figure of Elvis: absurd egomaniac in life, absurd bloated icon in death. It's brilliant. The other poems draw one into small worlds observed tenderly. Wojahn uses craftsmanship and formal structures to enhance emotional impact, but nothing is overdone. Highly recommended.-- Steven Hupp, Chicago
From the Publisher

“[A] highly accomplished and daring collection. . . . Wojahn proves himself a master of the narrative poem, extending his range here with expertly fashioned dramatic monologues and quirky, rhythmic sonnets.”
Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822979326
Publisher:
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
05/29/1990
Series:
Pitt Poetry Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
File size:
465 KB

Meet the Author

David Wojahn is professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and also teaches in the MFA in Writing Program of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of Spirit Cabinet, The Falling Hour, Late Empire, Mystery Train, Glassworks, Icehouse Lights, and Interrogation Palace, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wojahn is the recipient of four Pushcart Prizes, the William Carlos Williams Book Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, the George Kent Memorial Prize, and the O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize, among other honors. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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