From the Publisher
"In this beautiful anthology, the poetry editors of the literary journal Tin House have cherry-picked from the magazine's past contributors. Representing the establishment are venerable poets such as Sharon Olds, Charles Simic and Donald Hall. Hall's poems are heartbreaking meditations on loss, containing the ghostlike presence of his late wife and muse, the poet Jane Kenyon: 'The months of absence hurry./In sleep I touch her skin/And wake in the stain of dawn, in fury.' Among the younger poets are two who continue to draw wider attention: Matthea Harvey, who has a brilliant knack for whimsically relaying the everyday oddity of the contemporary world, and Christian Hawkey, who conveys some of the widespread feeling of helplessness: 'I will sit down in the middle of an intersection.../ & pour gasoline over my head,/ & gaze up at the clean white object of a gathering cloud.' Poetry in translation also has a strong presence, through Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska and the late Yehuda Amichai, among others. Also adhering to the magazine's dictum to showcase both the very well known beside up and comers, this book gathers poems that are never self-indulgent, occasionally political, often intimate and in many cases timely, both universal and approachable, such as the title poem by Ben Doller: 'When I bend back to look at the satellite convulsions, I/ am an aqueduct for twilit rain.'"Publishers Weekly
"...an enticing anthology of contemporary poetry."Elisa Gabbert,
"...some of the most touching, raw, hilarious, and best poetry that has graced [Tin House]...A very well-put-together collection of exceptional poetry, Satellite Convulsions shows what Tin House is all about."Sacramento Book Review
In this beautiful anthology, the poetry editors of the literary journal Tin House have cherry-picked from the magazine's past contributors. Representing the establishment are venerable poets such as Sharon Olds, Charles Simic and Donald Hall. Hall's poems are heartbreaking meditations on loss, containing the ghostlike presence of his late wife and muse, the poet Jane Kenyon: "The months of absence hurry./In sleep I touch her skin/And wake in the stain of dawn, in fury." Among the younger poets are two who continue to draw wider attention: Matthea Harvey, who has a brilliant knack for whimsically relaying the everyday oddity of the contemporary world, and Christian Hawkey, who conveys some of the widespread feeling of helplessness: "I will sit down in the middle of an intersection.../ & pour gasoline over my head,/ & gaze up at the clean white object of a gathering cloud." Poetry in translation also has a strong presence, through Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska and the late Yehuda Amichai, among others. Also adhering to the magazine's dictum to showcase both the very well known beside up and comers, this book gathers poems that are never self-indulgent, occasionally political, often intimate and in many cases timely, both universal and approachable, such as the title poem by Ben Doller: "When I bend back to look at the satellite convulsions, I/ am an aqueduct for twilit rain." (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Tin House Books
Copyright © 2008 Brenda Shaughnessy and CJ Evans
All right reserved.
Chapter One SONG Quincy Troupe words & sounds that build bridges toward a new tongue within the vortex of cadences, magic weaves there a mystery, syncopating music rising from breath of the young, the syllables spraying forward like some cloud or mist hung around the day, evening, under street lamps, yeasting air, where words & sounds that build bridges toward a new tongue gather, lace the language like fireflies stitching the night's lungs, rhythms of new speech reinventing themselves with a flair, a mystery, syncopating music, rising from breath of the young, where the need for invention at the tongue's edge, high-strung, at the edge of the cliff, becomes a risk-taking poet who shares words & sounds that build bridges toward a new tongue, full of wind & sun, breath feeds poetry from art's aqualungs, under a blue sea that is sky language threads itself through air a mystery, syncopating music, rising from breath of the young, is a solo snatched from the throat of pure utterance, sung, or wordsmiths bluesing cadences, weaving lines into prayers, words & sounds that build bridges toward a new tongue- a mystery, syncopating music, rising from breath of the young CHICKADEE Ed Ochester Late at night when the house is silent I'll put down my book and quarter an apple or put a few slivers of cheese on a piece of flatbread, and it must be the poverty of those meals which makes me think of the departed, like the old German who used to walk hunched every afternoon past my window when I was very small and wave to me, his walrus moustache yellowed by cigars (back then all the old men smoked and they lived forever) which he held in an amber mouthpiece. No one in my house knew him, but he waved just the same, and tapped his cane toward the corner where the cop stood directing traffic, but stopped long enough to tip his cap to the old man, as though it were a Bing Crosby movie and not a lousy corner in Queens on an eight-lane boulevard. And I think again of Fat Charley, his huge head-thin black hair parted down the middle-floating above his beer stein, and his terrible jokes-every 4th of July: "the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posteriors"-and again of my father walking dark tenement streets in Brooklyn, collecting crumpled bills from the poor for their small policies, life & casualty. I'm sick of pity because it's always self-referential. This morning, this warm day in March 500 miles from that corner in the city, I listened to the birds in the hawthorn-such singing, and snow is expected-such difficult lives. One chickadee came close to inspect me, hopping from branch to branch to get a better view, until I could see her carpet-tack beak as she studied me, cool and fearless, this creature that weighs an ounce, with her merciless black-bead reptilian eye. FEBRUARY 28 David Lehman God is the cloud that travels with my caravan, Bessie Smith is in my living room singing "Do Your Duty," and I may look like a gas station attendant but my name is Jackson Pollock and I'm the Big Bang Professor of theoretical physics at Southern Comfort University, and as a good citizen of this fading century whose rules of sexual engagement were laid down by the Marquis de Sade I know I am responsible for all I see which I have organized into cities and chambers as one might organize the sea THE WAR IS OVER Ben Doyle Not an acquiescence of surrender, the bra hung from the flagpole. The bra is black & there is no wind for once. For once there is no wind & a spark that is a bird brings a straw to an empty C-cup. A spark that is a spark. That is the sun on the steel pole. That is the oldest thing & then is gone; like the war, whose trench is gone, because it is full of red iron-clot soil, because there are lawnchairs reclined on top of it (empty, but warm, still warm, sweat-wet & stretched-out) & a white plastic table with a pitcher of dark iced tea upon it. The ice is half melted. Clear water waits near the brim. The wasp waving in it annoys a piece of dust so minute it might not be there. In its head is only enough space for a split second of a song it heard the third of July, a trombone belch muted with a pink plunger-head. The war was over again, the parade began hitchless, history was history, a refugee pinned a Purple Heart on a brave bomb & a drop of brown blood rolled down its chest like a tumbling tumbleweed as the saints came marching in in white fur hats, in white plastic shoes, in tuxedoes matching the color-scheme of decrepit glory, glockenspieled, anacondad in sousaphones, a trombone with a wasp on its brass bell resting its wings. It is pausing on my reflection, mid-tone, in the center of my stain. Then there is snapshot of the sky departing generously, perhaps forever. Appropriately dark, we finally see the "grand finale" & realize it is only the preceeding parts pushed closely together & we think we are all a bit relieved, although we are afraid to admit even this. the rules, a Ptolemaniac with stars & suns circling me; I keep missing my cues, can't arrange the particles moments are made of- and it's all good!-because when I bend seriously back & peep at the satellite convulsions I am a sluiceway for night rain. If I love at least I love aptly, terminally, like a man who loves his dinner until he's done with it, then settles to the couch to easy pixilated dreams (bounced off, yes, satellites, & beamed into a pale dish). And still, even unfettered by history or hope, the world does not seem shocking-simply something to fly a canvas balloon around, to dig a hole in. To climb into. To allow to fill with water, perhaps it is raining, perhaps you dig below the watertable; it gushes through the dirt; your bath is drawn & in it are drawn (sputniks & stars) maps & charts with which to constellate your body. Connect the dots. A little ladle with four handles-a tiny light strobes in the cup, in hot convulsions of distance, bleats of temporal ignorance, synapse of morse but no code, blood but no pulse, the stream but no mouth or source. SATELLITE CONVULSIONS Ben Doyle When I bend back to gaze at the satellite convulsions, I am an aqueduct for twilit rain. Quite literally I stand in the littoral zone: a lens-no, an aqueous humor, my feet on the land below the high watermark, my hand a glazed waver: hello light-purple lights, hello red spots, you've beaten the stars out tonight but you're struggling with the atmosphere aren't you? Over centuries the river became not a river: Lethe's ends crept together-self-scavenging sea snake-& the middle filled with water-morphology dubbed it a lake & now the moon swims in it & the moon orbits it & the moon tidally tugs on it. The moon is a satellite in a fit of paroxysm. One minute past, I emptied an aluminum can of dull opiate to the drains to wash down my antipsychotics & then Lethe-wards slunk I. There must be this wire shaking loose in my mind, an unattended firehose, a spasmodic filament attempting to cool the baby planet but lacerating precious gray matters. Thought leaves no vacancy for memory- I forget & forget the rules, the thirst an auger; rain only whetting it, I bend & lap some lake up, tongue it, suck the silty mammary right where a light from the firmament meets it. I keep forgetting YOU Jason Shinder Stand close, inhale my breath. You're my shadow even in the dark. We were born to love sooner or later. We're humans. Aren't we? Don't leave until you slip into the sleeves of my shirt. Say something- and it's about something else but not about us- which is a kind of loving. For a long time the long falling of light in the trees. Nothing changes. And the people you've known, let's invite them all to dinner. ON THE HEARTH OF THE BROKEN HOME Sharon Olds Slowly fitting my pinky-tip down into the wild eggshell fallen from inside the chimney, I feel as if I'm like a teenage boy in love, allowed into the beloved's body, like my father with the girl he loved, who loved him. If he had married her ... I lift it up close to my eye, the coracle dome hung with ashes, rivered with flicks of chint, robes of the unknown-only a sojourner, in our home, where love was sparrow-netted to make its own cage, jessed with its jesses, limed with its radiant lime. And above the tiny tossed-off cloak of the swift, in the deep reaches of the old dutch oven, on a bed of sprung traps, the mice in them long gone to meltdown, and to maggotmeal, and wet dust, and dry dust, there lies another topped shell, smaller, next to it its doffed skull tressed with spinneret sludge, speckled with flue-mash flecks, or the morse of a species, when I lift it up, its yolk drops out, hard amber, light coming through it, fringed in a tonsure of mold and soot. If I ever dreamed, as a child, of everlasting love, these were its shoes: one dew-licked kicked-off slipper of a being now flying, one sunrise-milk-green boot of the dead, which I wore, as I dreamed. POND AFTERNOONS
When early July's Arrival quieted the spring's black flies, ___ We spent green afternoons Stretched on the moss Beside dark Eagle Pond, and heard across Its distances the calling of the loons. The days swam by, Lazy with slow content and the hawk's cry. We lost ambition's rage, Forgot it all, Forgot Jane Kenyon, forgot Donald Hall, And sleepily half-glanced at a bright page. Day after day We crossed the flaking railroad tracks and lay
In the slant August sun To nap and read Beneath an oak, by the pond's pickerelweed. Then acorns fell: These days were almost done.
Excerpted from Satellite Convulsions Copyright © 2008 by Brenda Shaughnessy and CJ Evans. Excerpted by permission.
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