Of Thee I Sing: Poems

Of Thee I Sing: Poems

by Timothy Liu
     
 

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In his fifth book of poems, Timothy Liu addresses a tripartite “Thee”: the Divine, the Beloved, and the State. A precarious dance between the spiritual and the material ensues, the lyric poem confronting a consumer culture overrun by rampant lust and greed yet finding itself unable to wholly stand outside of what it critiques. Any consolation found

Overview

In his fifth book of poems, Timothy Liu addresses a tripartite “Thee”: the Divine, the Beloved, and the State. A precarious dance between the spiritual and the material ensues, the lyric poem confronting a consumer culture overrun by rampant lust and greed yet finding itself unable to wholly stand outside of what it critiques. Any consolation found herein is short-lived. Even so, by extending the traditions of lyric poetry forward, these utterances seek to enlarge the conversation between art and life, anticipating whatever commerce the future might yet hold.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Timothy Liu writes out of an angry materialism, ill-fitting body, disappointment at every turn. He takes on his point of view wholeheartedly and compresses the consequences into phrases that echo and mimic each other, thereby increasing the sensation of claustrophobia and fever. Lots of humor erupts to keep the machine going. Is will the same as desire? It didn't used to be, but now it is. His poetry is fully present to the time we are in, and takes it on as a serious failure of intention."--Fanny Howe, author of The Wedding Dress

"With formidable invention, Tim Liu has made a book that is the 'flesh canoe' of liberty, American liberty. Family, sex, art, the fissures of liberty: 'America's / indigenous sublime.' By his eloquent, memorable, unappeased example, Liu enjoins us to do what Ginsberg did, put our queer shoulders to the wheel."--Frank Bidart

"The book’s greatest strength is Liu’s willingness to pick through American culture and his personal life while acknowledging that ‘Innocence means nothing / to us now.’ This stark vision, compelling him to wonder ‘So what if poetry / burns itself to the ground,’ has become as necessary as it is unsettling."--Times Literary Supplement

"[Liu's] poems provide plenty of reward . . . Liu's monostichs, full sentences as well as stark fragments, read like sound bites or news tickers at the bottom of a TV news screen. As such they seem prophetic."--North American Review

"Liu’s transformations are startling and original, with lush language and series of fragmentary images to illustrate the tensions between the divine, the political and the physical."--Sacramento News & Review

"Intense devotion to gay male desire collides with painful self-scrutiny, political protest and snapshots of far-flung America in Timothy Liu's Of Thee I Sing, forming a hyperreal nation of passion and distress 'sworn into a cult of moon-lit chinoiserie.'“--Publishers Weekly

"Liu’s pointed imagery is rendered in meticulously metered verse, often in elegantly enjambed couplets or triplets or single end-stopped lines, with frequent references to art, music, and biblical or Greek mythology. His work evokes Rilke’s and Rodin’s contemplations of a fragmented, yet enduringly luminous and transformative sculpture of Apollo."--Multicultural Review

Times Literary Supplement

The book’s greatest strength is Liu’s willingness to pick through American culture and his personal life while acknowledging that ‘Innocence means nothing / to us now.’ This stark vision, compelling him to wonder ‘So what if poetry / burns itself to the ground,’ has become as necessary as it is unsettling.

Multicultural Review

Liu’s pointed imagery is rendered in meticulously metered verse, often in elegantly enjambed couplets or triplets or single end-stopped lines, with frequent references to art, music, and biblical or Greek mythology. His work evokes Rilke’s and Rodin’s contemplations of a fragmented, yet enduringly luminous and transformative sculpture of Apollo.

Frank Bidart

With formidable invention, Tim Liu has made a book that is the 'flesh canoe' of liberty, American liberty. Family, sex, art, the fissures of liberty: 'America's / indigenous sublime.' By his eloquent, memorable, unappeased example, Liu enjoins us to do what Ginsberg did, put our queer shoulders to the wheel.

North American Review

[Liu's] poems provide plenty of reward . . . Liu's monostichs, full sentences as well as stark fragments, read like sound bites or news tickers at the bottom of a TV news screen. As such they seem prophetic.

author of The Wedding Dress - Fanny Howe

Timothy Liu writes out of an angry materialism, ill-fitting body, disappointment at every turn. He takes on his point of view wholeheartedly and compresses the consequences into phrases that echo and mimic each other, thereby increasing the sensation of claustrophobia and fever. Lots of humor erupts to keep the machine going. Is will the same as desire? It didn't used to be, but now it is. His poetry is fully present to the time we are in, and takes it on as a serious failure of intention.

Sacramento News & Review

Liu’s transformations are startling and original, with lush language and series of fragmentary images to illustrate the tensions between the divine, the political and the physical.

Publishers Weekly
Liu's attractive fifth book departs from his previous work in its denser style, but not in its themes: intense devotion to gay male desire collides with painful self-scrutiny, political protest and snapshots of far-flung America, from New Jersey (where the poet teaches and lives) to the "red states" and their evangelical demands. Liu tackles these subjects in tough, sometimes fragmentary, free verse, starting with a terse, thoughtful "Ars Poetica": "All the world day-trading suicide shares.... The craft could be taught but not the art." A three-time Lambda Award nominee, Liu (Say Goodnight) still aims to shock ("Let me be your rotisserie Christ"), but those shocks are here aggregated toward a greater cause, as his poetry presses for understandings based on the body ("Flesh knows no future/ but itself, each of us mining a secret dream") and celebrates gay America from backseat to shining sea. One series links the end of a relationship to the expulsion from Eden, "Cruel speech soiling the nuptial bed"; other poems meld a post-Miltonic high style to down-and-dirty reportage, mixing choppy and verbally challenging poems with more fluid, narrative affairs. In Liu's hyperreal nation of passion and distress, "Innocence// means nothing to us now"; decadents and hayseeds join hands and cry out, while "sons who had once studied law// at their father's behest" are "sworn into a cult of moonlit chinoiserie." (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820326009
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Series:
The Contemporary Poetry Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.24(d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Liu's first book of poems, Vox Angelica, received the 1992 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. His other three books were finalists for the Lambda Literary Award. Liu, an associate professor of English at William Patterson University, has edited Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry.

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