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Distance from Loved Ones

Distance from Loved Ones

by James Tate

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Clear and insightful poetry on our relationship to the given world.


Clear and insightful poetry on our relationship to the given world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tate ( Reckoner ) tells swirling, surreal stories that challenge the reader sense of language and order as they speak of the absurdity and necessity of love, the schizophrenia of the human psyche in the sensuously overloaded modern world, and the important role of beauty in our lives. amidst all of this madness. Yet the poet's metaphors are comprised of giddy, psychedelic images that relate to one another and to each poem as a whole in ways that exclude the reader--in ``Horse Gets Dark,'' he writes, ``Out of the crevices of our predilections / animalcules begin a recital, boisterous / as sharecroppers, disarming the cucumber / salad of its windchime and coat-hanger.'' Even poems free of cluttered verbiage are difficult to decipher: in ``Quabbin Reservoir,'' there is a village at the bottom of a lake with ``several mailmen swimming in or out,'' and in ``Anatomy,'' the townspeople eagerly await the death of a beautiful woman so that, at last, their ``ugliness will become the standard.'' Tate's poetry represents a deeply personal yet incompletely formed vision. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The same desperate hunger for love that informed the compelling poems in Tate's prize-winning first collection, The Lost Pilot ( LJ 5/15/67), pervades his tenth book. In the title poem his mother describes in slapstick terms occurrences--from a botched facelift to cancer--that have befallen Zita; when the poet asks who Zita is, he hears: ``I am Zita. . . . / And you, my son, who should have known me best, thought I was nothing but your mother.'' Lovers portrayed in these poems include a snow leopard and a woman who ``carried an aura/ of innocence as well as death''; a beached bird's skull could be ``my own long-lost ancestor.'' With expert craft, employing the surrealistic techniques that have been central to his work since the early 1970s, Tate drops his clown's mask long enough for readers to see real tears, while intentional cliches and linguistic puns drive home the point that he is not alone in his agony.-- Ro chelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, ``Soho Weekly News,'' New York
From the Publisher
“Mr. Tate is an elegant and anarchic clown. A lord of poetic misrule with a serious, subversive purpose.”—John Ash, New York Times Book Review

“Tate brings to his work an extravagantly surrealistic imagination and a willingness to let his words take him where they will. Nonchalant in the midst of radical uncertainty, he handles bizarre details as though they were commonplace facts. [Tate’s poetry draws upon] so rich a fund of comic energy that is may well prove an antidote to the anxiety some readers feel with poems that refuse to lend themselves to instant analysis.”—David Lehman, Washington Post Book World

Product Details

Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
Wesleyan Poetry Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Jorie Graham
“American poetry, in desperate need of real vision, is being finally rewarded with the genuine article . . . No one else seems to be living as deeply as this man—or seeing as clearly. Or singing as terrifying a song”

Meet the Author

JAMES TATE grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of The Lost Pilot (1967), The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970), Hints to Pilgrims (1971), Absences (1972), Viper Jazz (1976), Riven Doggeries (1979), Constant Defenders (1983), and Reckoner (1986). He teaches at the University of Massachusetts and lives in Amherst.

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