Love, an Index


A man disappears. The woman who loves him is left scarred and haunted. In her fierce, one-of-a-kind debut, Rebecca Lindenberg tells the story—in verse—of her passionate relationship with Craig Arnold, a much-respected poet who disappeared in 2009 while hiking a volcano in Japan. Lindenberg’s billowing, I-contain-multitudes style lays bare the poet’s sadnesses, joys, and longings in poems that are lyric and narrative, at once plainspoken and musically elaborate.

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A man disappears. The woman who loves him is left scarred and haunted. In her fierce, one-of-a-kind debut, Rebecca Lindenberg tells the story—in verse—of her passionate relationship with Craig Arnold, a much-respected poet who disappeared in 2009 while hiking a volcano in Japan. Lindenberg’s billowing, I-contain-multitudes style lays bare the poet’s sadnesses, joys, and longings in poems that are lyric and narrative, at once plainspoken and musically elaborate.

Regarding her role in Arnold’s story, Lindenberg writes with clear-eyed humility and endearing dignity: “The girl with the ink-stained teeth / knows she’s famous / in a tiny, tragic way. / She’s not / daft, after all.” And then later, playfully, of her travels in Italy with the poet, her lover: “The carabinieri / wanted to know if there were bears / in our part of America. Yes, we said, / many bears. Man-eating bears? Yes, of course, / many man-eating bears.” Every poem in this collection bursts with humor, pathos, verve—and an utterly unique, soulful voice.

This widely anticipated debut, already selected as a finalist for several prominent book awards, marks the first collection in the newly minted McSweeney’s Poetry Series. MPS is an imprint which seeks to publish a broad range of excellent new poetry collections in exquisitely designed hardcovers—poetry that’s useful and meaningful to anyone in any walk of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The whole of Lindenberg’s debut is her memorial to her late husband, the widely admired poet Craig Arnold (Made Flesh), who disappeared while hiking around a Japanese volcano in 2009. Unified by its passion and looks back at an exemplary and an exceptional romance, the volume avoids monotony through the forms that Lindenberg adopts or invents. Two prose poems are called “Status Update”—one of them says, “Rebecca Lindenberg has joined the group ‘It All Seems So Simple Now, In the Aftermath of This Consciousness-Altering Tragedy.’” Sparse free verse recalls travel together, or else echoes Sappho’s monodies: “Hush, hush, heart-monster—// I’m varnishing/ the bone-ladder.// Don’t worry, he’ll be back// any minute now.” Literal memories (some involving Arnold’s teenage son) balance out lyrical spells, and terse forms balance profuse ones, in this book that amounts to a prolonged keening, a transparent if information-rich lament. The long title poem presents itself as an index (“TELEPHONE/ bill, all those phone calls... TELEPHONE mobile, for so long you refused to have one... TORREY, Utah”): it’s more like an essay, less lyrical, than the rest, and many readers will go there first. The volume is also the first in the new poetry series from McSweeney’s Books. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Love, an Index is an utterly startling, muscular, heartbreaking book—poems pulled into existence by an event anyone who reads them wants only to reverse. Yet facing the irreversible fully, and still finding words, is what poems do. They demonstrate what it is to go on. I wish this book were not here to be read. But it is. And be read it will, with gratitude, stopped breath, amazement.”
—Jane Hirshfield

“Is it Northrop Frye that defines the lyric poet as someone whispering to herself or to a lover, a ghost? These poems enact that sort of intimacy. Prayers, love letters, reveries-- they feel overheard in a way that makes this poet's innovations (as in the title poem or “Illuminating” or “Losing Language: A Phrasebook for Beginners” or “Love, n1.”) feel natural and necessary. Love, an Index is a terrific litany of losses and retrievals. These poems recover, reclaim, remake the elegy form. They give it a soundtrack that is both blue and celebratory and careening at the slant of love. Rebecca Lindenberg's work stuns me.”
—Terrance Hayes

“The poems in Love, an Index, through a kaleidoscope of form and subtle pitch of voice, constitute a chorus. As in a symphony, there are strains and themes and variations, but ultimately there is unity, and here that unity is the sound of a deep soul—speaking, thinking, watching, remembering, but above all, singing. It is a song of plunging grief, a grief almost too low to bear, and the poems stay down, obediently, through the long dreaming night of loss. And then a sun comes up, and the whole book unfolds its wings and quietly rises. This is a dark and beautiful adventure, a terrible journey that strangely comes home to hope. I find this is a humbling and human book of poetry, a book to celebrate.”
—Maurice Manning

“Robert Creeley has long since and helpfully avowed that a poem is the activity of the evidence. Now, with Love, an Index, Rebecca Lindenberg provides an ancillary and most beautiful motive force to that activity, for these are poems whose luminous details and loving candor show the sensorium of their evidence. It has been quite some time since American writing has brought forth a poet of sensibility. Yet surely now, it has done so. In her recklessness, in her acutest sounds, Lindenberg emboldens sensuality to become true sense and truthful understanding. This is a book first to read and then afterward, ever after, to know.”
—Donald Revell

"These poems accomplish—beautifully, fiercely, heartbreakingly—to fix a life into a handful of moments, beyond the flow of eternity. But here Lindenberg’s attention is always drifting beyond the page, to the terrible what-is, the tender what-ifs. Each poem seems to say, This is what we were given, this is what we made, and it must no, somehow, be enough."
—Nick Flynn

"Lindenberg executes her grief in measured, clean lines that speak of more to come… It comes to the point where a single word reaches out and takes the reader by the heart.”
Weave Magazine

“These poems are heartbreaking, not just because they mourn a lover lost but because they celebrate the enduring presence of a love shared.”
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

“An A-to-Z collection of poems that are passionate, plainspoken, elegiac, and lyric as they capture the moments of a life shared.”
Vanity Fair

“Beautiful and romantic.”
School Library Journal

"Lindenberg effortlessly creates an egoless world, full of feeling yet devoid of melodrama...A poet of immense power."
—Bin Nguyen, ZYZZYVA

Love, An Index tells a beautiful and heartbreaking story.”
The Rumpus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936365791
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Series: McSweeney's Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Lindenberg is the grateful recipient of a 2012 MacDowell Arts Colony residency, a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a 2009-2010 Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center fellowship. Her poetry, essays, and criticism appear in The Believer, POETRY, Iowa Review, Smartish Pace, DIAGRAM, Mid-American Review, 32 Poems, Conjunctions, Huffington Post, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She lives and writes in northern Utah.
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