Death of a Ventriloquist

Death of a Ventriloquist

by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
     
 

Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2011

This debut collection includes love songs and prayers, palinodes and pleas, short histories and tragic tales as well as a series of ventriloquist poems that track the epiphanies and consequences of speaking in a voice other than one's own. Other poems speak to a Beloved and the highs and lows of parenthood and

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Overview

Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 2011

This debut collection includes love songs and prayers, palinodes and pleas, short histories and tragic tales as well as a series of ventriloquist poems that track the epiphanies and consequences of speaking in a voice other than one's own. Other poems speak to a Beloved and the highs and lows of parenthood and personhood-all with music and verve, with formal dexterity, with sadness and humor, with an intimate voice that can both whisper in our ears and grab us by the collar and implore us to listen.

"What drives the poems in this wonderfully animated debut volume and prompts the reader's pleasure in them is the patent honesty of the poet's voice. In the 'ventriloquist' series itself, Fay-LeBlanc creates a remarkable refracted self-portrait, bristling with moments of unabashed illumination."-Eamon Grennan, author of Out of Sight

"In the words of visual artist Paul Klee, whose synaesthetically suggestive work inspires this manuscript, 'art doesn't reproduce what we can see, it makes it visible.' The turf of these poems is a 'vision country' in which our narrator / ventriloquist makes visible (and audible) the world to which he restlessly attends, offering up the 'voices' of everything. Formally deft, these poems address the limits and grace of lyric poetry."-Lisa Russ Spaar, author of Satin Cash and judge

GIBSON FAY-LeBLANC's poems have appeared in magazines including Guernica, The New Republic, and Poetry Northwest. In 2011 he was named one of Maine's "emerging leaders" by the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media for his work directing The Telling Room, where he still occasionally teaches writing. He lives with his family in Portland, Maine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Subtle and finespun as the strings that move a marionette, Fay-LeBlanc’s lines in this debut lure, guide, and yank us through poems in which “a redstart in the boneset and spotted knapweed” and “eel grass winding your ankles” are always waiting to dance upon the tongue. Whether he’s overhearing a conversation in a tavern or the music stuck in his head, Fay-LeBlanc uses his ventriloquist to raise important questions about how we perform ourselves through language, creating a voice that locates its source in a “Prayer of Glass” because it must hide its true source from us. Fay-Leblanc’s best work draws our eyes away from him, as in “Notes on Colic,” where, in a dream, we suddenly see “The foreman of the pity factory,/ where they produce the tiniest/ violins known to man //...that guy, /who can’t stop itching his welts //...does a little jig /to make you feel better.” The tension that permeates his poetry—what is seen and unseen, said and eavesdropped, true and trickery—culminates in a debut that rings out long after Fay-LeBlanc’s lips stop moving. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“What drives the poems in this wonderfully animated debut volume and prompts the reader’s pleasure in them is the patent honesty of the poet’s voice. In the ‘ventriloquist’ series itself, Fay-LeBlanc creates a remarkable refracted self-portrait, bristling with moments of unabashed illumination.”—Eamon Grennan, author of Out of Sight

“In the words of visual artist Paul Klee, whose synaesthetically suggestive work inspires this manuscript, ‘art doesn’t reproduce what we can see, it makes it visible.’ The turf of these poems is a ‘vision country’ in which our narrator / ventriloquist makes visible (and audible) the world to which he restlessly attends, offering up the ‘voices’ of everything. Formally deft, these poems address the limits and grace of lyric poetry.”—Lisa Russ Spaar, author of Satin Cash and judge

“Whether he’s overhearing a conversation in a tavern or the music stuck in his head, Fay-LeBlanc uses his ventriloquist to raise important questions about how we perform ourselves through language. The tension thatpermeates his poetry—what is seen and unseen, said and eavesdropped, true and trickery—culminates in a debut that rings out long after Fay-LeBlanc’s lips stop moving.”—Publishers Weekly starred review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781574414479
Publisher:
University of North Texas Press
Publication date:
02/13/2012
Series:
Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry Series, #19
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.23(d)

Meet the Author

 GIBSON FAY-LeBLANC’s poems have appeared in magazines including GuernicaThe New Republic, and Poetry Northwest. In 2011 he was named one of Maine’s “emerging leaders” by the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media for his work directing The Telling Room, where he still occasionally teaches writing. He lives with his family in Portland, Maine.

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