The First Riskby Charles Jensen
In four extended sequences, The First Risk confronts the murder of Matthew Shepard and the myth of Venus and Adonis through the eyes of Italian Renaissance painter Luca Cambiaso; the eccentric women of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother and their search for authenticity; the nature of love and obsession in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and the pain and confusion of loss; and "The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon," the compelling novella-in-verse of a physicist in search of his lost wife, haunted by a phantom voice that may or may not be hers...
- Lethe Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 8.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)
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Charles Jensen is a poet/writer/seer/film fiend/mythology aficionado who somehow marries all of these seemingly disparate aspects of his mind into some of the most exciting work being written today. To this point his creativity has been available by chapbook (it feels as though he is concerned about the transience of this form, so dependent on returning to a printed page is his writing as this first printed/published collection suggests). His commitment to his art is accompanied by an impressive resume: 'He holds an MFA in poetry from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing an MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis. He serves as director of The Writer's Center, one of the nation's largest independent literary centers. He is also active in his local community by serving on the Board of Directors of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County and in the national community by serving on the Emerging Leader Council of Americans for the Arts.' But these are facts that can be easily accessed using a search engine or, more impressively, reading the extended eloquent featured article + cover photo in the February Issue of POETS and ARTISTS MAGAZINE (O&S) February 2010. But while facts and data and other pieces of peripheral information my open doors of curiosity about Charles Jensen, it takes spending time with this brilliant first book, THE FIRST RISK, to begin to understand the depth of his talent. The book is a quartet of large works: Safe (a response cum reenactment of the Matthew Shepard tragedy), City of Sad Divas (musings on the 'female' characters from the cinematic output of Pedro Almodóvar), The Double Blind: A Critical Text (an amazingly unique combination of notes and storyboard lyrics facing pages of the dilemmas of analyzing Alfred Hitchcock's films), and The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon (a novella of sorts steaming with romance and corporal transformation into energy form that is as fine a plot for a film as any circulating out there). Four quite distinct elements of a quartet, these, but obviously the work of a gifted man not afraid of exploring the dark and not afraid of viewing the world as an ongoing motion picture. While each of these four major pieces is stunning (it is difficult not to grab a pencil and underline portions that jump out and gobble the reader's eyes and mind - an example from The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon 'There is no poverty of reasons. Reasons are sticking their pointy noises from the soil all over the yard and each one smells like you. And I know the reasons will bloom into permissions at any moment.'), the piece that opens the book -'Safe' - is surely one of the finest extended works of American poetry yet written. The act of Matthew Shepard's heinous slaughter is recreated in spaces, in portions almost too tough to digest, and is broken by Jensen's reflections on the 1565 drawing (not painting!) 'Venus and Adonis' by Luca Cambiaso in which Venus comes down to tend to the death of Adonis. Jensen becomes part of that tragic scene: 'I recognize his face through all the dried blood. They say the skin showed through only where his tears ran down and it means all through the night he felt pain' and at the end of the poem Jensen writes 'Now the event is inside us, rank and sour. We carry its sadness like a gene.'