Desolation: Souvenirby 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
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.
"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)
- Omnidawn Publishing
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- 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.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >