Green Sees Things in Waves: Poems

Overview

1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In this powerful and inventive collection, August Kleinzahler succeeds in creating a new idiom for American lyric poetry that captures the velocity and swerves of contemporary life in the city. He pushes the language very hard to get there, and the results are breathtaking: an angular, propulsive poetry that transforms character, voice, and setting into buzzing, ...

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Green Sees Things in Waves: Poems

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Overview

1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In this powerful and inventive collection, August Kleinzahler succeeds in creating a new idiom for American lyric poetry that captures the velocity and swerves of contemporary life in the city. He pushes the language very hard to get there, and the results are breathtaking: an angular, propulsive poetry that transforms character, voice, and setting into buzzing, luminous events.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Kleinzahler's] best successes are just as crisp and pungent as Pound's most startling images."—DeSales Harrison, Boston Book Review

"This new book is full of off-kilter yet dead-on observations that hover just above our recognition until their very sound trips the brainwire and the 'little truth' falls into place."—Albert Mobilio, Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kleinzahler's casual manner belies his subtle, capacious sense of what lyric can do. His new poems depict a frisky, smart-alecky dog who is an expert on WWI poets; a pair of elderly, stranded small-town muses; the headachy ex-acidhead of the title; and the cute "little toughies" on Sunday morning streets. Longer poems analyze Chinese medicine; mull over a "bad feeling"("I call it Dolph"); and describe the light on the New Jersey Palisades. As in his last book, Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow (1995), Kleinzahler shuffles impressionistic, descriptive poems in among rarer subgenres: edgy monologues, dream-visions, beast-fables, epigrams and film noir adventures. His work balances seemingly offhand notation against large elegiac intentions, much as it sets the slang his characters use against comic, or precise, five-dollar words"magisterial," "griseous," "perpend." Drawing for structure and attitude on Frank O'Hara and Wallace Stevens, and for details on Ezra Pound, Thom Gunn and the freewheeling mannerisms of the Beats, Kleinzahler's best poems seem improvisatory, even jotted, at first ("My freight elevator makes a distant whump/ then squeals to a stop on the floors back there/ behind my left ventricle/ OUT OF SERVICE/ for months, I am at first alarmed then refreshed"), but they deepen on rereading, revealing a secret seriousness. Kleinzahler's sometimes friendly, sometimes confrontational tones, winning vigor and idiosyncratic speech rhythms give these ambitious oddities grace and lasting appeal. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Kleinzahlerþs fourth book relies on a wealth of voices and styles, from the hipsterþs scatty lingo to the three-chord cadences of rock-'nþ-roll; his sense of absence in the bleak West recalls the withered artistry of Sam Shepard, while his urban talkers sound like Mametþs sharp chatterers. Kleinzahler exults in the confluence of þaccident and artifice,þ and his casually surreal poems appear more accessible than they are, though the title narrative simply reflects an acid burnoutþs madness, not the refractions of physics. þSnow in New Jerseyþ scans the industrial landscape and declares the past aesthetics of þsocial realismþ as nothing more than an idea in a book. þTanka-Toysþ and þToysþ both riff on youthful pleasures, discovering truth in a spaldeenþs bounce. Taking a cue from the collage art of Joseph Cornell and Ezra Pound, Kleinzahler arranges his images for sonic effect since, as þGlossolalia All the Way to Buffaloþ suggests, þwords come loose/of their moorings and fall apart.þ þ52 Pick-Upþ is little more than a selection of evocative words and phrases, with a tip of the hat to Irwin Coreyþs absurdist semantics. But his funky rhythms and itinerant sights support a wildly original vision.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374525842
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.22 (d)

Meet the Author

August Kleinzahler's previous collection of poems is Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow (FSG, 1995). He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in San Francisco.

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Table of Contents

Green Sees Things in Waves 3
Snow in North Jersey 5
The Dog Stoltz 7
Watching Young Couples with an Old Girlfriend on Sunday Morning 9
Listening in April: Time Zones (Sydney, Virginia, San Francisco) 10
Silver Gelatin 13
Uttar Pradesh 14
Tanka-Toys: A Memoir 17
A Sketch of Gael Turnbull on a Visit from Edinburgh 21
Vulture Under the Palisades 23
On First Looking into Joseph Cornell's Diaries 26
Gray Light in May 29
Glossolalia All the Way to Buffalo 31
West 33
Longitude Lane 34
September: Johnson County, Iowa 35
The Flock of Blackbirds 38
They Ofttimes Choose 40
For Ann, Whose Studio Burnt to the Ground in the Big Futon Factory Fire Across the Freeway from the Coliseum 42
Napping After Lunch 45
Sunday Morning 47
Monsters 49
52 Pick-up 51
What the Science of the Ancients Told 53
The Dead Canary 57
On Top of the Hill: Montclair 59
Someone Named Gutierrez: A Dream, A Western 61
August 1995 63
Toys 65
The Conversation 69
Before Dawn on Bluff Road 71
Diablo: A Recipe 73
Late Autumn Afternoons 76
Self-portrait 78
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