Desolation: Souvenir by Paul Hoover, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Desolation: Souvenir

Desolation: Souvenir

by Paul Hoover
     
 

Fiercely elegiac, the title poem of Paul Hoover’s desolation : souvenir began as a “filling in” of the blank spaces in A Tomb for Anatole, Paul Auster’s translation of Mallarmé’s grief-stricken notes for a poem that he never completed on the death of his ten-year-old son. However, Hoover’s writing soon turned to his own

Overview

Fiercely elegiac, the title poem of Paul Hoover’s desolation : souvenir began as a “filling in” of the blank spaces in A Tomb for Anatole, Paul Auster’s translation of Mallarmé’s grief-stricken notes for a poem that he never completed on the death of his ten-year-old son. However, Hoover’s writing soon turned to his own consideration of life, death, the breaking of family relations, and loss of love as experienced by all of us: “when death plays / with a child / it goes out nimble / comes back cold / life that traitor / aboard a razor boat.” Written in three terse stanzas, each of the poem’s 50 pages offers a phrase that becomes the title of its opposite number at the other end of the manuscript. The result is a haunting echoic effect that becomes especially rich as the phrases “cross” at the middle of the sequence. At times, the poem mourns the loss of the earth itself: “what will be enough / when the earth / contains no one / will the harvest still be full” and “no bees in the hive, no hive / sound returns to its bell.” Inspired by his reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, the companion poem, “The Windows (The Actual Acts),” consists of a series of philosophical propositions in everyday language: “An object is the actual awaiting further action. / It can wait a long time. / Time is fresh in objects even when they decay. / You can’t give one example of time getting old.” Another series of thoughts begins: “Have you every gazed from a window to see if everything’s still there? / And see your own face in the glass, superimposed on the view? / Consciousness rests among its objects. / Which makes the objects restless.” Long established as a poet of wit and intelligence, Paul Hoover now establishes himself as an important voice of deep emotional resonance and far ranging vision.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This new collection by the stalwart experimental poet and editor of the Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology is divided into two sections. In the first, a long series of poems in three stanzas borrows, sometimes, the tones and devices of what might be called “wisdom poetry” to posit with great authority what feels like nothing less than glimpses of nature’s truths and flashes of spiritual wisdom told slant: “an icicle in the sun/ is just enough for grace/ what can’t be seen/ can still be heard”; “being is an infant/ life’s the first encore/ for the last thing/ we remember”; “what are the laws of man/ from the viewpoint/ of a leopard.” As the poems accrue, one realizes there’s as much pleasure in noticing how this oracular voice makes wisdom of whatever it describes as there is in parsing its many sayings. The book’s second part is a single long poem made of sentences that drift along a wandering course of thought; the poem wonders and asserts and tests, hinting at the authority of the earlier sequence, but tempered by doubt: “To know an object, you have to know its future.// Many objects were in our mouths as children.// They tasted square or round, hard or soft.// We were seeing with our mouths.” Through these many lines, Hoover illustrates his notion that “o be beside yourself is to be fully conscious.” (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"In the two long poems that make up Desolation: Souvenir, Paul Hoover unravels the edges of empirical knowledge. . . . What's so moving in this book is the lucidity with which Hoover takes on matters that can't be resolved or reclaimed."  —Elizabeth Robinson, author, Harrow and Three Novels

"Two poems, one grounded in Mallarmé's deeply moving elegiac fragments for his young son, the other a now playful, now serious riff on Wittgenstein's propositions. The former notably expands our sense of elegy's range and its various tones. The latter illuminates the richly exploratory and ever surprising thrust of poetic logic—or is it antilogic—as it engages with seas and selves and worlds. Together they offer seamlessly paired instances of Paul Hoover's always impressive field of poetic invention."  —Michael Palmer, award-winning poet, Company of Moths

"The comfortable tone of the aphorism gets cracked open in these dense truisms as they all go slightly off-kilter, careening quietly into brand new territory. Interweaving elements of radically different tenors—hypnotic rhythm, sharp observation, elegiac impulse—Hoover's brilliant stanzas and one-liners are moving constellations presenting the raw materials of the world in constantly shifting and illuminating relations. Throughout, thinking and feeling egg each other on; the result is a simply stunning book, both deeply wise and extremely moving."  —Cole Swensen, award-winning poet, Noon and Try

"As the poems accrue, one realizes there's as much pleasure in noticing how this oracular voice makes wisdom of whatever it describes as there is in parsing its many sayings." —Publishers Weekly (April 23, 2012)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781890650582
Publisher:
Omnidawn Publishing
Publication date:
04/01/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
88
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

PAUL HOOVER is the editor of the influential anthology Postmodern American Poetry, co-editor with Maxine Chernoff of the literary magazine New American Writing, and author of twelve previous poetry collections. His prizes include the Frederick Bock Award from Poetry, the Jerome J. Shestack Award from American Poetry Review, an NEA Fellowship in poetry, and the GE Foundation Award for Younger Writers. The Hölderlin volume that he co-translated with Maxine Chernoff (and that was also published by Omnidawn) won the PEN-USA Translation Award in 2009. Born in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and raised in the rural Midwest, he lived and taught for many years in Chicago. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.
Born in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and raised in the historically pacifist Church of the Brethren, Paul Hoover was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and published a novel about that experience, Saigon, Illinois (1988) in the noted Vintage Contemporaries series. He has traveled widely to present his poetry and translations, including the countries of Brazil, Belgium, Vietnam, China, England, Russia, Scotland, and Mexico. And, he curates a poetry reading series at the deYoung Museum of Fine Art, San Francisco.

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