The Great Wave

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In his acclaimed debut collection The Incentive of the Maggot, Ron Slate delivered an ingenious and enigmatic account of the intersections of global, family and personal histories. Now, in The Great Wave, a more personal tone asserts itself as Slate fashions poignant and haunting poems that shock us with a recognition of our perilous times. These are poems of strange and sometimes caustic assessment, reflecting on family, the work life, catastrophe, creativity, solitude, and desire—tracking the transit between ...

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Overview

In his acclaimed debut collection The Incentive of the Maggot, Ron Slate delivered an ingenious and enigmatic account of the intersections of global, family and personal histories. Now, in The Great Wave, a more personal tone asserts itself as Slate fashions poignant and haunting poems that shock us with a recognition of our perilous times. These are poems of strange and sometimes caustic assessment, reflecting on family, the work life, catastrophe, creativity, solitude, and desire—tracking the transit between reality and the imagination, and creating the sound of its discoveries. Seductive, demanding, witty, and embittered, Slate’s voice comes from a secret, intimate space abutting a large, incongruous world.

The poems in The Great Wave, so taken with the collisions between history and contemporary life, remind us that the role of poetry is to confirm our existence by giving shape to the inner world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This second volume shows that Slate's Bakeless Prize-winning debut, The Invention of the Maggot (2005), wasn't just hype: Slate, who spent more than two decades in the corporate world before beginning his poetic career, is a poet for whom long, wide experience really seems to have turned into wisdom, whose deft handling of syntactic changes and verbal ironies supports considered verdicts on the things and people of this world. Poems reflect intercontinental travel and corporate responsibilities (now ended); dealings with elderly parents and with grown children; and welcome, if melancholy, time alone. They also give compact, sometimes grim, and vivid advice: "Don't call out to the world,/ since it can't answer in one voice." Another poem summarizes firefighters' training: "Far out on an island in the harbor,/ recruits rehearsed in burning rooms." Slate seeks and often finds a classical simplicity, not to be confused with simplification: his deliberate pace, his mergers of disillusion with an almost (but not quite) religious poise and his interpolated travelogues might put careful readers in mind of Robert Hass. "How far I am from what I'd cure with words," Slate says late in the volume—and yet, for all his regrets and self-chastisements, there are spiritual ailments for which such careful lines may indeed be the cure. (Apr.) —Publishers Weekly

“Ron’s Slate’s marvelous second collection tells us that in the case of at least one writer, intellectual curiosity remains alive and well. His are grown up poems laced with rueful humor and willing to dwell in those liminal places where private history becomes public history, and personal reckonings collective ones . . . The Great Wave is a splendid achievement.”—David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace

“According to William Carlos Williams, people are dying miserably from a lack of the news that could come to us from poems. Okay, then: Ron Slate has taken on the job of bringing us the news, not just from the USA today but also from Sao Paolo and Jakarta. Here are poems that distill the whole wide world to its most vivid, most telling morsels.”—Lucia Perillo, author of Luck is Luck

“Ron Slate is at once a realist uneasily inhabiting a staggeringly surreal universe and a sophisticated surrealist moving easily inside the ordinary life of family, corporate work and international travel, interpreting his disjointed surroundings with gravity and clarity. Yet, when he writes, ‘How far I am from what I’d cure with words’ it is an insight into his profound aspirations and the stark universal simplicity of his griefs.”—Gail Mazur, author of Zeppo’s First Wife

Publishers Weekly

This second volume shows that Slate's Bakeless Prize-winning debut, The Invention of the Maggot(2005), wasn't just hype: Slate, who spent more than two decades in the corporate world before beginning his poetic career, is a poet for whom long, wide experience really seems to have turned into wisdom, whose deft handling of syntactic changes and verbal ironies supports considered verdicts on the things and people of this world. Poems reflect intercontinental travel and corporate responsibilities (now ended); dealings with elderly parents and with grown children; and welcome, if melancholy, time alone. They also give compact, sometimes grim, and vivid advice: "Don't call out to the world,/ since it can't answer in one voice." Another poem summarizes firefighters' training: "Far out on an island in the harbor,/ recruits rehearsed in burning rooms." Slate seeks and often finds a classical simplicity, not to be confused with simplification: his deliberate pace, his mergers of disillusion with an almost (but not quite) religious poise and his interpolated travelogues might put careful readers in mind of Robert Hass. "How far I am from what I'd cure with words," Slate says late in the volume-and yet, for all his regrets and self-chastisements, there are spiritual ailments for which such careful lines may indeed be the cure. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547232744
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/8/2009
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

RON SLATE is the author of The Incentive of the Maggot, nominated for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize of the Academy of American Poets. In over 30 years of business experience, he was vice president of global communications for a Fortune 500 technology company, chief operating officer of a life sciences company, and a co-founder of a social network for family caregivers. He lives in Milton, Massachusetts.

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