The Politics

Overview

Science and speculation, faith and doubt, reformation and resistance: "politics" consists in navigating the forms of internal discord that we find both within our communities and within ourselves. In The Politics, his first collection of poems, Benjamin Paloff animates these dynamics by orchestrating a grand dialogue among contentious philosophers, ancient heroes, pop icons, and the man on the street. Part-drama, part-treatise, this is a book in which the most modest fragments of history and biography, of physics...
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Overview

Science and speculation, faith and doubt, reformation and resistance: "politics" consists in navigating the forms of internal discord that we find both within our communities and within ourselves. In The Politics, his first collection of poems, Benjamin Paloff animates these dynamics by orchestrating a grand dialogue among contentious philosophers, ancient heroes, pop icons, and the man on the street. Part-drama, part-treatise, this is a book in which the most modest fragments of history and biography, of physics and imagination, "survive by calling out / to one another."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This much-awaited debut from critic, translator, and Slavic-lit scholar Paloff combines an articulate sadness with an almost playful devotion to classical and philosophical texts. "If anything happens to you here," Paloff warns, "no one will help you. No matter what/ happens, refuse to take the stage in the theater they've made of your temple." Such bracing advice—delivered, like most of these poems, in subdued, long-lined free verse—comes at the end of a poem called "Maimonides on the Indestructibility of the Universe"; the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, the Roman thinker and playwright Seneca, the classical historian Xenophon, the Greek poet Archilochus, and other such personages wander through Paloff's poems, providing the seeds from which his own sentences grow. Loss—political, romantic, existential—pervades every object, every figure: "The hardwood paneling in the southern courtroom encodes another way to be dead, someone is hard at work encoding everything that's said, and another is doing his darndest not to judge." Paloff gets plenty of ideas into his lines; sometimes he risks a philosophizing monotony. The best parts find room for sensuous invention, too: "The day is more radiation than matter, the black hole a sign/ for what is not allowed." (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887485350
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 2/7/2011
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

BENJAMIN PALOFF grew up in Atlantic City and is a poetry editor at Boston Review. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, A Public Space, The Paris Review, and elsewhere, and he writes frequently for such publications as The Nation and the Times Literary Supplement. The recipient of grants and fellowships from the US Fulbright Program and the National Endowment for the Arts, he is also the translator of several works from Central and Eastern European literatures. He teaches at the University of Michigan.
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Table of Contents

Maimonides on What Is Meant by "Vision"
School of Titian
For My Mafia Uncles
Crush Syndrome
Island of Stability
Maimonides on the Indestructibility of the Universe
Maimonides on Scriptural Passages with Seemingly Purposeless Contents
Diptych of the Annunciation, Left Panel
Diptych of the Annunciation, Right Panel

For Hypatia, When the Detainee is Pretty
Seneca on the Lesson to be Drawn from the Burning of Lyon
For Archilochus, Because Sometimes the Poet is a Hitman
Philo on the Indestructibility of the Universe
Philo on the Confusion of Tongues
For Fillide Melandroni, Who Lacks Virtue
Seneca on the Brevity of Life
Seneca on Suicide
Seneca on Providence

Seneca on the Soul, Which Shines with a Good All Its Own
Philo on Providence
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Philo on Fighting and Finding
Seneca on the Natural Fear of Death
Xenophon on How to be a Good Cavalry Commander
Mechanical Turk
Seneca on the Futility of Planning Ahead
Seneca on the Happy Life
On the Death of Tomaz Salamun

APOLOGIA
". . . I should not think it worth while to apologize for my subject if I regarded myself as one of its failures . . ."
". . . a chess player may offer the sacrifice of a pawn or even a piece, but a mathematician offers the game . . ."
". . . 'immortality' may be a silly word, but probably a mathematician has the best chance of whatever it may mean . . ."
". . . I must not seem to claim a dialectical triumph over a man who cannot contradict me . . ."

Seneca on Immortality
Seneca on Friendship
Seneca on Crowds
Seneca on Clemency
Seneca on Banishment
Seneca on Anger
Seneca on Tranquility of Mind

The Poem is a Magnetospheric Eternally Collapsing Object
Valerius Maximus on Wonders
Valerius Maximus on Prodigies
The Four Great Inventions of Ancient China
The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg •

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