Complex Sleep

Complex Sleep

by Tony Tost
     
 

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Complex Sleep, Tony Tost’s ambitious second book of poems, leaps upward with an astounding multiplicity of voices, utterances, and bursts. Each leap marks a sure and precise entry into a world of images, ideas, and sensations that is brand new—the true accomplishment of any poetic work.

The octet of poems that compose Complex Sleep

Overview

Complex Sleep, Tony Tost’s ambitious second book of poems, leaps upward with an astounding multiplicity of voices, utterances, and bursts. Each leap marks a sure and precise entry into a world of images, ideas, and sensations that is brand new—the true accomplishment of any poetic work.

The octet of poems that compose Complex Sleep comprises a complex organism, audacious in scope, swiping at meaning via language as fragmented music. Tost takes on the problem of physical shape, reorchestrates phrases according to the alphabet, and writes himself into the hypnagogic state between waking and dreaming. Informed by their own procedural constraints, these poems invent forms that tap the unconscious poetic, the very complexity embodied in sleep. All the while, Tost reforms utterance beyond the mere epistemology of much contemporary poetry.

Devising an innovative formalism rather than concerning itself with discovering the what, Complex Sleep is about discovering how to say what needs to be said. Skip the opera, this book performs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The eight sequences of Tost's sophomore effort are brimming with ambition and, with unusual maturity for an emerging poet, they grapple with looming questions of form, perception and the role of poetry. Whitman Award-winner Tost (Invisible Bride) shares with Charles Olson (whose work casts a formidable shadow over this collection) the desire to use the poem as a place of experiment, as a place to enact rather than describe. Whether this is done through investigations into representing an authentic self ("By over-quoting my sources I have revealed only myself.") or through similarly reflexive aphoristic quips ("A dying form knows/ that not everything translucent/ is transcendent."), Tost's work synthesizes 20th-century avant-garde strategies, from objectivist and Black Mountain poetics through language writing and conceptual poetry, with nods to Emerson and deconstruction. Lines and sentences comment on their own creation ("The problem with syntax, the problem with giving, she stood on one foot, and imagined a future."). The standout pieces here are the musically infused "World Jelly" and the 35-page title poem, which is an abecedarian orchestration of sentences by turns humorous, poignant and cerebral. This challenging book won't be for everyone, but it is likely to take the tops of more than a few heads off. (Oct.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587296215
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
10/01/2007
Series:
Kuhl House Poets Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
122
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Tony Tost is a graduate student at Duke University. His first book, Invisible Bride, won the 2003 Walt Whitman Award. His poems have appeared in such literary journals as Hambone, No: a journal of the arts, Mandorla, Typo, Fence, Talisman and LVNG. He edits the online poetry journal Fascicle.

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