A gorgeous, wide-ranging volume of poetry and essays by Forrest Gander, studded with the work of three great photographers.
Publishers WeeklyGander is an experimental poet in the most literal sense of the word, in that each of his books attempts things that haven't been tried before, either by him or others. In this eighth collection, four sequences of poems respond to pictures by three photographers—Raymond Meeks, Graciela Iturbide, and Lucas Foglia—making of the images metaphors for people and places that are easy to see but difficult to penetrate. The poems don't describe the pictures so much as work in chorus with them; in a poem on whose facing page is a Meeks photo of a shirtless, dust-covered boy carrying a basket, Gander writes: "I cannot be discarded, his eyes say," which is as much a response to the picture as it is a challenge to the visitor to take the unfamiliar place on its own terms. Concluding each section is a piece of jumpy prose, a kind of lyric essay, narrating one of four journeys—to Xinjiang, Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina. and Chile—all of which serve to illustrate that "Behind everything/ the foreigner sees, something he doesn't/ know how to look for." In these pieces, Gander gets as close as one can to the sensations of being an outsider straining toward empathy: "I wanted to borrow eyes/ from another language," he writes. "I was looking for the words to come." (May)
BooklistWry and glimmering. Gander's border crossings and core samples illuminate places that grant revelations bemusing and profound.” Donna Seaman
Washington Independent Book ReviewGander pays attention to nuance. He sees collaborations between the world and self as ethical questions.” Grace Cavalieri
Boston Review“In Core Samples Gander burrows into the particularities of disparate places and cultures in order to sound the differences between them. His work moves across forms and modes, reminding us that writing is an action, a process of creation, itself a form of traveling.”
Critical MassGander has always been an innovative poet, and one deeply concerned with the events, and languages, beyond America’s borders. In this, certainly his most accessible, and possibly his most powerful, book, he brings the world’s frightening and beautiful strangeness far beyond the edge of the page.
” Craig Morgan Teicher
The Washington Post“
Each section opens with a complex, disorienting poem that re-creates the traveler’s experience of being in a place where things don’t quite make sense. Then Gander shares stories of things he has seen or heard of. He records his observations as he travels with other writers and exchanges ideas about poetry’s ability to transcend borders. The reader is constantly surprised by what comes next such as a side trip to Utopia, Va. and begins to crave the interruptions, which add freshness and energy to the work
Donna Seaman - Booklist“Wry and glimmering. Gander's border crossings and core samples illuminate places that grant revelations bemusing and profound.”
Grace Cavalieri - Washington Independent Book Review“Gander pays attention to nuance. He sees collaborations between the world and self as ethical questions.”
Craig Morgan Teicher - Critical Mass“
Gander has always been an innovative poet, and one deeply concerned with the events, and languages, beyond America’s borders. In this, certainly his most accessible, and possibly his most powerful, book, he brings the world’s frightening and beautiful strangeness far beyond the edge of the page.
Library JournalA foreigner with poetry as his passport, Pushcart/Whiting award winner Gander (Eye Against Eye) takes "core samples" of the cultures he finds on journeys to China, Mexico, Chile, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and presents them in a blend of poetry, haibun (a Japanese form of essay-poem), and photography (by a trio of others). "Did you know Bosnia is the only country without a McDonald's?" a new friend in Sarajevo asks him; while in San Luis Potosí, another man points out Julieta, owner of "the most famous legs in Mexico," since they were caught on video when tossed into the air by a renegade bull. In Beijing, Gander marvels at what "appears to be a casino boat on the lake," ornate and beautiful, "carved from ocherous marble." But not all is easygoing: "At dinner, the Santiago poet averts her face from the gringo…. A synecdoche, he is taken for his government…. With suspicion at the threshold of dialogue, there is always a word blocking the first word." VERDICT This impressive compendium takes us to corners of the world well worth seeing, particularly through Gander's eyes. Recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry.—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Elizabeth LundThe reader is constantly surprised by what comes next…[Core Samples from the World] delivers on its promise.
The Washington Post
- New Directions Publishing Corporation
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- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
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