From the Publisher
“Powell recognizes in the contemporary the latest manifestations of a much older tradition: namely, what it is to be human . . . I admire these poems immensely, for their deftness with craft, their originality of vision, their ability to fuse old and new without devolving to gimmick-and for a dignity as jazzily inventive as it is sheer.” Carl Phillips, from the citation for the 2001 Boston Review Poetry Contest
“Here is work that manages to be entirely of-the-moment while at every turn it announces (without preening over it) not merely an awareness, but an actual confidence with such prosodic traditions as the heroic couplet and the pentameter line, such cultural and literary traditions as those of the New Testament and of meaningfully comic punning. No fear, here, of heritage nor of music nor, refreshingly, of authority....I admire these poems immensely, for their deftness with craft, their originality of vision, their ability to fuse old and new without devolving to gimmick--and for a dignity as jazzily inventive as it is sheer.” Carl Phillips, from the citation for the 2001 Boston Review Poetry Contest
“In Cocktails, D. A. Powell's lens for examining reality and society is fitted with a very modern filter-passionate wit.” Carol Frost
Powell's third, and best, book completes his much-talked-about trilogy about growing up gay and uneasy in the age of HIV-and about living with the virus himself. "Cocktails" signifies both drinks on the town and a mix of anti-AIDS drugs; the pun is the first of many effective (if showy) doublings, ambiguities and slippery phrases throughout the book, some brightly flirtatious, others grave indeed. Powell divides the volume into "mixology," "filmography" and "bibliography": the poems of the first part begin from scenes, songs and friends, the second appropriate famously queer-centric films, and the third rings changes on episodes from the New Testament. Powell can allude and evade with the best of them, but he shows equal skill in pleas from the heart: "listen mother, he punched the air: I am not your son dying"; "what's the use of being pretty if I won't get better?" As in Tea, Powell (who now teaches at Harvard) uses the ultra-long line he deployed for agile grammatical feints and leaps; these poems, however, show a greater range, and far more versatile use of old-school precedents (from the Gospels to Renaissance pastoral), skillfully mixed with pop culture of all kinds. In one ode, emulating Odysseus, Powell croons "a dusty springfield song" to "a scant crew of leukocytes/ who have not mutinied"; "the mermaids beckon from the cape." It is not a journey to miss. (Mar.) Forecast: Powell's debut, Tea, fired up a critical following, some of which found the follow-up, Lunch, disappointing. Cocktails, by contrast, should land him national awards. Its strong theme could also translate to considerable coverage outside the usual poetry venues; if that happens, look for very expanded sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.