King of Shadows

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Based on the author’s life as a gay man and a poet, King of Shadows is a collection of twenty-one autobiographical essays that circle in and around San Francisco since the 1960s. The three longest pieces deal with Aaron Shurin’s coming into poetry and gay identity via a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his deep relationships with poets Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan, and his personal history of venturing into San Francisco gay bars, starting in 1965 and ...

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San Francisco, California, U.S.A. 2008 Soft Cover First Edition, First Printing New-Collectible in None as Issued jacket Author Signed BRAND NEW & COLLECTIBLE. First Edition, ... First Printing. Author signed to first title page. A history, a chronicle, a self-revelation to gay and literary life in San Francisco. Collection of 21 essays, some first published in periodicals and journals) from poet and essayist, Aaron Shurin (1947)-], who, since 1999, co-directed the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at the Univ of San Francisco. A sensitive poetic excursion into the complexity of the self and the community at large, and necessarily, an autobiography. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Based on the author’s life as a gay man and a poet, King of Shadows is a collection of twenty-one autobiographical essays that circle in and around San Francisco since the 1960s. The three longest pieces deal with Aaron Shurin’s coming into poetry and gay identity via a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his deep relationships with poets Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan, and his personal history of venturing into San Francisco gay bars, starting in 1965 and ending just before Stonewall.

Aaron Shurin is the author of fifteen books, including Involuntary Lyrics and The Paradise of Forms, named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

Pleiades
“His luminous descriptive prose . . . injects lightness. . . . Shurin scatters several short pieces about gardens and flowers throughout the collection; these read like gorgeous, airy confections. Gradually these disparate essays coalesce into autobiography, and a picture--appealing in its completeness--emerges of Shurin as thinker, as poet, as member of the San Francisco gay community, and as human." --(Katherine D. Stutzman)
Publishers Weekly

This emotionally potent collection of 20 essays by noted Bay Area poet Shurin (Involuntary Lyrics) begins with a meditation on his fear of birds ("of coursethey're dinosaurs") and coming out in radical UC-Berkeley in the late 1960s. The collection progresses through meditations on how the difference between Shakespeare's Oberon and Puck shaped his identity as a gay man and a poet, and his indebtedness to Robert Duncan, Frank O'Hara and Denise Levertov. The accumulation of biographic and literary details conjures up an apparitional dreamscape of a very specific moment in American history—a new sense of personal and literary freedom, a new period of progressive political and literary ideas. Shurin's idiosyncratic style can startle with its imagery and captures a complicated, conflicted relationship to several cultural identities. Describing his anxiety about his looks before going to a bar, he writes "oh, my wiry, independent, shtetl hair, my Ukrainian ribbons from my mother's side, folkloric bonnet of curls, was out of the question, way too heavily accented, ruefully unacceptable, untidy, un-Californian...." The author addresses forthrightly the question of AIDS by the end of this book, one of Shurin's best. (June)

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Lambda Book Report
An astonishing precision of language pervades these twenty-one portraits of a mind's intercourse with the world . . . Cherishing the complex specificities of language and experience is clearly Shurin's ambition and creed. In King of Shadows, he brilliantly succeeds.
Colorado Review
Shurin's nonfiction writing owes much to his shared vocation as a poet, so lushness of language and a honed attention permeate each of the pieces in this book . . . I was practically sniffing the page to capture the essence of the sweet pea that Shurin promised would send tendrils up my hand if I let it hang still for too long.
—Elizabeth Robinson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872864900
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Aaron Shurin has published eight books of poetry and one of essays. His selected poems, Paradise of Forms, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 1999. His essays on AIDS, Unbound, went through several printings with Sun & Moon Press. Since 1999 he has directed the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

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Table of Contents

The Shrine 9

Reciprocity 17

Along the Way 23

Geomancy 31

King of Shadows 35

Perching 55

Morning in the Valley 59

Three Scenes from the Sauna at the YMCA 65

Blue in Gray 69

A Discovery 73

The People's P***k 77

Dahlias 91

Reading in Time/Reading in Place 97

Composed 105

Abattoir 109

The Dancers 115

Avatar 125

In the Bars of Heaven and Hell 131

Hush 157

The Dance That We Made 159

The Immediate Local 169

Notes 173

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