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Further Adventures in Monochrome

Overview

"Yau tweaks and twists language to express a painful comic vision in which sensual vividness combines with fierce despair."—Booklist

John Yau engages art criticism, social theory, and syntactical dexterity to confront the problems of aging, meaning, and identity. Insisting that "True poets and artists know where language ends, which is why they go there," Yau presses against the limits of language, creating poems that are at once cryptic, playful, and insightful. Included in its...

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Overview

"Yau tweaks and twists language to express a painful comic vision in which sensual vividness combines with fierce despair."—Booklist

John Yau engages art criticism, social theory, and syntactical dexterity to confront the problems of aging, meaning, and identity. Insisting that "True poets and artists know where language ends, which is why they go there," Yau presses against the limits of language, creating poems that are at once cryptic, playful, and insightful. Included in its entirety is his groundbreaking serial poem, "Genghis Chan: Private Eye," and a new series invoking the monochromatic painter Yves Klein.

From "Exhibits":

Can you name which country uses selective amnesia to determine its foreign policy?
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Money has become a vast dirty sea rolling over the land.
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Money has become a UFO because it is the only thing that lacks controversy.
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Money rhymes with algae.
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Do you swear to tell the whole truth filled with nothing but reasonable lies?
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Signing up for Free Membership works best in a failing economy.
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In case of emergency, please vacuum the premises.
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I used to be thorough, now I am just comprehensive . . .

John Yau is the author of fifty books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. He is the arts editor of The Brooklyn Rail and teaches art criticism at Mason Gross School of the Arts and Rutgers University. He lives in the Garment District neighborhood in New York City.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Built on the principle that poetry is servant to no organizing principle, Yau’s poems continue to agitate and explore identity and personal mythos by way of a mind that is beholden to nothing save its own wanderlust. His latest collection exhibits both delight and despair at never being able to affix to a thought for longer than a glimpse. “I do not speculate about ceaseless wonders,” writes Yau. “I go out and see if I might/ Find another remote and insubstantial form.” This duality, which allows Yau to be confessional while remaining veiled, is brilliantly investigated in “A Bungler Draped in Bangles Does Not a Burglar Make,” which reads like the state of the union by a man who can hardly face himself in the mirror: “Don’t ask me to tell you/ what I look like now./ I haven’t the foggiest idea/ what has happened to me.” If certain of Yau’s stabs at wordplay and humor smack of a juvenile giggle, it’s important to remember that flippancy and ridiculousness are deliberate modes. “All yours for only a fraction of a lifetime,” he writes, “And all along you thought I was a zombie making naughty noises at you.” (May)
Library Journal
Chinese American poet/critic Yau, whose many titles include National Poetry Series winner Corpse and Mirror, here shows that poetry can tackle sociological issues while making language fresh. The poet assumes that with imagination giving daily experience meaning and beauty, a single chronicled reality can bring forth others, and his poems vividly record this act of becoming: "I am interested in what is, and what is not/ I try to find a way from one to another/ I don't like any, least of all mine." The often short, fragmented lines and crafty distribution of space give the poems a dynamic feel; some poems blend surrealism and parody so that past and present narrate each other. A dominant theme is identity, particularly exiled or marginalized identity, which Yau explores through the clever deployment of Asian symbols, as in the series poem "Genghis Chan: Privet Eye." VERDICT Yau uses his heritage beautifully to enrich and expand his poetic adventure. Recommended for all poetry readers.—Sadiq Alkoriji, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556593963
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 585,116
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


John Yau: Poet, critic, and curator John Yau was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1950. Since publishing his first collection of poetry in 1976, he has penned over fifty books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. He has received many accolades and teaches at Mason Gross School of the Arts and Rutgers University.
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