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Music and Suicide
     

Music and Suicide

by Clark
 

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Flower on, happy paperwhite
When you bloom you're gorgeous
when you wilt
--"Drugs"

Jeff Clark's first collection, The Little Door Slides Back, was hailed as an unclassifiable classic in underground American writing: "Remarkable for its liveliness and intelligence" (Chicago Review), "Amazing and ambitious" (Rain

Overview

Flower on, happy paperwhite
When you bloom you're gorgeous
when you wilt
--"Drugs"

Jeff Clark's first collection, The Little Door Slides Back, was hailed as an unclassifiable classic in underground American writing: "Remarkable for its liveliness and intelligence" (Chicago Review), "Amazing and ambitious" (Rain Taxi), "a 120-page spell" (American Letters & Commentary), "A happy sadomasochism, a luxuriance of prurience" (Boston Review), "Devoted to the idea of possibility in the poet who operates as free agent, looking to the weather not for the springs of dailiness but for some message from the aether" (Arras), "[Clark's work] creates . . . our own precursors, precursors who behave differently than our supposed avant-garde" (Rhizome).

In Music and Suicide Clark is no longer underground. He moves away from the sinisterism and mask-ridden black humor of his debut, toward new realms of clarity, dissent, and sex. Neither a traditionalist nor an experimentalist-if being one means not being the other-Clark once again is engaged in radically beautiful poem-making, but, as Guy Kyser states, "Something affected him down in the desert."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Anyway, whatever... It's effortless" begins "Jade Ache," one of 24 verse and prose pieces from Clark's second precocious full-length collection. Clark's The Little Door Slides Back (Sun & Moon), completed in his mid 20s and published in 1998, effortlessly reinvented sexualized Francophilia and Black Forest fable for the info-drenched Clinton Era-making subversive little meanings that landed like bodily fluids on top of the global village's big tent. While less charged and less charming the second time around, this Music pipes an insistence on the dark, possibly doom-laden inventiveness of "easy" play. Miasmic sex acts, knowingly baroque diction, violence and appropriation of whatever concepts or gods will serve mark almost every poem, forging a kind of declaration of transcendence: "the sun to swell as in the fable/ of Jah's throb in a cherry aperture/ and flood the folds." Most of the pieces are lyrics that range from one to a few pages, beginning with a lament or apostrophe ("What I was lacking you brought back/ I was building a clean, strong structure/ and it cracked"), and opening out into "lobal foam and beams." At the center of the book is the prose "Shiva Hive," where the poet responds to a (fake?) unnamed interlocutor's idealizations of the poet-beloved with a theory of Eros that links magnetism, prayer, obsession, recognition, incompleteness and "my mother, who is now emerging from my bedroom doorway in her nightgown, her face beginning to contort." One of the very few younger poets to make FSG's list, Clark transmutes moldering mythos and archaic plunderphonics into present-tense jouissance and "lilac javelin." (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Praised by Arras as "a free agent, looking for some message from the aether" and by the Boston Review for his "happy sadomasochism," Clark (The Little Door Slides Back) is not a polite poet trolling the fields of academic verse. In the first poem in his new collection, an ailing jester evidently collides with a praying mantis and a piece of chocolate (after all, "He was ugly when he ate eggs"), and his melancholy is eventually turned on the reader. Elsewhere, a killer contemplates his corpse ("Did strangling have a sound, did you think at all of staying"), cats repeatedly come out of clocks, and the poet contemplates various scenarios of love and lust. But this is to credit the poems with more narrative structure than they have; Clark's style is scattershot surrealist, and while individual images can be arresting, they don't easily cohere to create an identifiable atmosphere, much less a logical thread. Of course, they're not supposed to, which is perhaps too bad; Clark's language and energy are a refreshing change from the earnest and plain-spoken verse often seen today. Not necessarily for public libraries but definitely for academic libraries and all cutting-edge collections.-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374281458
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.49(d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Clark was born in southern California in 1971. The author of three books of poems--The Little Door Slides Back, Arab Rab, and Sun on 6--he lives in Oakland.

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