Exactly What Happened


This first collection of poems unveils the magician's trick: an illusion only works if we believe that what we've just seen is exactly what happened. With a hairsplitting sense of detail and spellbinding language, Joel Brouwer's poems consider characters
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This first collection of poems unveils the magician's trick: an illusion only works if we believe that what we've just seen is exactly what happened. With a hairsplitting sense of detail and spellbinding language, Joel Brouwer's poems consider characters
Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

Albert Goldbarth
Joel Brouwer doesn't turn from difficulty. He knows that 'every night, the sea / is seized just underneath with pressure and menace,' he can look at a squirrel, its 'eyes / augured out.' But his poems, no matter how true to our distresses, redeem us with magic continuously. One poem opens the 'Abracadabra Kit,' another considers the sweat behind Houdini's illusions. Brouwer knows that the wordsmith, like the stage conjurer, can bring us into what he calls 'the glow / of potential.' It's a wonderful place to be, and poem after poem here provides the key to that locked door.
Richard Howard
It is his Sense of Occasion which grants this lively and lucid new poet exceptional formal control. Within such contingent focus, a strong heart and a striking mind have attached themselves to worldly matters (as his title suggests) of the greatest interest, and we are enlightened. Chastened, but enlightened.
Mary Karr
Joel Brouwer is arguably the most accomplished, hilarious poet to come down the pike in his generation. Like young Auden or Lowell, he's obviously read everything, yet he wears his learning with a kind of offhanded humor that shows wisdom. Brouwer is also capable of a heart-breaking tenderness and wry political observations. If you want to edify yourself about this planet as it whirls toward the millennium, read this book.
Thomas Lux
There is a whole new, strong, and necessary generation of poets coming of age in America right now and Joel Brouwer is one of the best of them I have yet read. His poems are as sharp and unpredictable as the shrapnel he writes about. He has a splendid ear, relentlessly truth-seeking imaginative abilities, and a heart wide open to the world he loves. Exactly What Happened will give you great pleasure and also help you endure--there is not much more to ask of a book.
Lucia Perillo
Exactly What Happened is both canny and innocent, hopeful one minute and bleak the next, and always mordantly funny. These poems are infused with tremendous intelligence and wit, yet they are spoken in the voice of the guy on the corner, without any poetic curlicues. The book's theme -- what is truth and how will we know it when we see it? -- is heartbreakingly apt for our times. For evidence, the author zaps us with those strange corners of our culture where the line between truth and fiction is especially fuzzy. From Laika the space dog to Khrushchev's shoe, the subjects of these poems will make you think that you can feel the poet's hand tipping your head so that the world came into focus at an angle slightly different from the way that you are used to seeing it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557531582
  • Publisher: Purdue University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Pages: 82
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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