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Eye Like a Strange Balloon (Grove Press Poetry Series)
     

Eye Like a Strange Balloon (Grove Press Poetry Series)

by Mary Jo Bang
 

The poems in The Eye Like a Strange Balloon find their seed in paintings, film, video, photographs, and collage, and the end results are something more than a sum of their parts. Beginning with a painting done in 2003, the poems move backwards in time to 1 BC, where an architectural fragment is painted on an architectural fragment, highlighting visual art’s

Overview


The poems in The Eye Like a Strange Balloon find their seed in paintings, film, video, photographs, and collage, and the end results are something more than a sum of their parts. Beginning with a painting done in 2003, the poems move backwards in time to 1 BC, where an architectural fragment is painted on an architectural fragment, highlighting visual art’s strange relationship between the image and the thing itself. The total effect is exhilarating—a wholly original, personal take on art history coupled with Bang’s sly and elegant commentary on poetry’s enduring subjects: Love, Death, Time and Desire. The recipient of numerous prizes and awards, Bang stands at the front of American poetry with this new work, asking more of the English language, and enticing and challenging the reader.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Art/ is the depth of whatever has deepened/ an abbreviate existence," writes Bang in this fourth collection, comprising ekphrastic poems that search relentlessly for the meaning of-and the reason for-art in our contemporary world. The book is without sections; instead it operates by proposing its subjects in a somewhat overly direct and thematically oriented first poem titled, "Rock and Roll is Dead, The Novel is Dead. God is Dead, Painting is Dead," which ponders the place of art in the postmodern age. The book proceeds through a series of 52 poems to try to find that place-finding a meager, not entirely satisfying answer in art's resistance to the depredations of time. Each draws upon a different work of art, from sources as various as Willem de Kooning, Cindy Sherman, Picasso and David Lynch. Unlike classical ekphrasis, however, Bang does not attempt to directly describe the work of art, but instead uses the works as springboards for her signature quirky pathos and alliterative staccato: "We are posing. We are poised./ This is where we live. We are ever/ but only when ever is all that there is." The collection concludes in a poem drawn from an original artwork by Bang herself. "Here darling, take this," she writes, "and Time gives the mouth a morsel." (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Bang's fourth collection takes ekphrasis (poetry about works of visual art) to the limit: each of the 52 poems involves a different art object, the last of which is Bang's own "mixed media collage." The work's eclectic nature may worry readers who have watched the film Mulholland Drive or seen the paintings of Sigmar Polke and Dorothea Tanning, not to mention Bang's collage. Knowing the artwork would, perhaps, help, but these poems are not tactile explorations of art but rather explorations of the idea of ekphrasis and the relationship between the verbal and the visual. The title poem is an internal rendering of an 1882 charcoal drawing by Odilon Redon, in which a large disembodied eyeball floats upward and away from Earth: "We were going toward nothing/ all along. Honing the acoustics,/ heralding the instant/ shifts, horizontal to vertical?" There is music in Bang's lines, set off by the charming, poetic titles of the paintings: The Tyranny of Everyday Life, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, and Three Parts of an X. Readers' enjoyment will be determined, in part, by their interest in questions of aesthetic theory: "What harm is there in art?/ As long as an image can never bed/ the object it represents./ Sex with an effigy./ How much fun could that be? Tsk. Tsk." For academic collections.-E.M. Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine LLP Lib., New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802141576
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/15/2004
Series:
Grove Press Poetry Series
Pages:
97
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.32(d)

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