The Politics

The Politics

by Benjamin Paloff
     
 

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

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."

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.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887485350
Publisher:
Carnegie-Mellon University Press
Publication date:
02/07/2011
Series:
Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Jorie Graham
"'What happened to all the problems/that disappear when you refuse to name them?' asks this fierce and urgent collection by Benjamin Paloff. Theologies, Law, Biophysics, illusions of Confessional Autobiography, and the Great American Love Story: the commodity—everything stars, is undone, then remade in the formal clarity of these heartbreakingly honest poems. Often aphoristic, lit by a clarity that recalls Classical Stoicism, these vivid poems enact what the American mind feels like now, what it feeds on, what it is spooked by, as it fairly crumbles beneath the freight of so much matter, so much inherited knowledge, so much desire, and so much desire for righteousness—poems splintering only to be formed again and again by Paloff's brilliant bracings. This is a book where one ghosted mind seeks a progenitor—culturally, spiritually, politically—and finds traces everywhere, in kitchens, in histories, in ideas just as they have been abandoned—sites uncovered for us to haunt, or to hunt it, with Paloff as our guide, in order to locate a place where we can say 'we began. . . .' Gorgeous, funny, wise work—important work—come to us not a minute too soon.
D.A. Powell
"In The Politics, Benjamin Paloff speaks from within some of the finest aspects of classic philosophical poetry's tunics, without wearing any of the garments instructive-side out. He's far more politic than that—nimble in wit, provocatively contemporary, and, foremost, a moving and imaginative new voice."

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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