Revolver

Overview

As restless, reckless, and precise as the Colt revolver for which it is named, Robyn Schiff’s Revolver “repeats fire without reloading” as it reckons with the array of foreboding objects displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the traces of their ghosts one hundred years later.
      A dirge on the Singer Sewing Machine, an exuberant and unnerving rumination on multipurpose campaign furniture, and a breathless account of Ralph Lauren’s silver ...

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Overview

As restless, reckless, and precise as the Colt revolver for which it is named, Robyn Schiff’s Revolver “repeats fire without reloading” as it reckons with the array of foreboding objects displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the traces of their ghosts one hundred years later.
      A dirge on the Singer Sewing Machine, an exuberant and unnerving rumination on multipurpose campaign furniture, and a breathless account of Ralph Lauren’s silver Porsche 550 Spyder are among the collection’s exhilarating corporate histories, urgent fantasias, and agonizing love poems. The long, lavish, and utterly unpredictable sentences that Schiff has assembled contort as much to discover what can’t be contained as what can.
     This is a book of extremes relentlessly contemporary in scope. And like the eighty-blade sportsman’s knife also described here, Revolver keeps opening and reopening to the daunting possibilities of transformation—“Splayed it is a bouquet of all the ways a point mutates.”

from “Silverware by J. A. Henckels”
Let me be as streamlined as my knife when I say this.
As cold as my three-pronged fork that cools the meat even as it steadies it.
A pettiness in me was honed in this cutlers’ town, later bombed,
in which Adolf Eichmann, who was born there
alongside my wedding pattern, could hear
the constant sharpening of knives like some children hear the corn in their hometowns
talking to them through the wind.
The horizon is just the score they breathe through
like a box of chickens breathing through a slit.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Wild with imagination, unafraid, ambitious, inventive, stitched to perfection by a formal genius that recalls the quirkily perfect forms (and tones) of Marianne Moore, Revolver is a perpetual motion machine in which time, history, matter, and a profound tenderness for the made world knot, rush, pleat, unfurl...What an embroidery, what a flawless understanding of gravity. There is not a poem in this collection that does not amaze. As with Worth—and worthy of being its successor—this is a work of profound daring, written by a spirit deeply aware of the ultimate cost of beauty, and the endless human thirst for, and dependence upon, surfaces—historical, lyric, material, and emotional.”—Jorie Graham
Publishers Weekly

Inspired by the variety of objects-such as the Singer sewing machine and an 80-blade sportsman's knife-presented at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (a kind of proto-world's fair), Schiff's astonishing second collection owes its title, and that of its whirlwind first poem, to another such object, the Colt rapid fire revolver. As in her debut, Worth, Schiff uses fashion houses and designers as delegates for the material world, effortlessly placing contemporary references beside mid-19th-century objects and ideas, encompassing all the history in between: "Might I, if there's one in stock, be sent the/ Ralph Lauren Winchester Tote/ shaped like the feedbags I've seen strapped on the/ fierce muzzles of the horses in pictures/ children are shown to depict/ for them how tasks, such as the/ feeding of horses, were accomplished in/ the Old West." The scope is dizzyingly wide, yet each shift in these poems feels necessary, and Schiff's long, beautiful sentences and relentless attention to language, history and the mystery of the human heart make these poems both thrillingly daunting and compulsively readable. This book springs from an imagination and vocabulary so surprising and intriguing that, in many poems, every line is a revelation. (Oct.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587296956
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Series: Kuhl House Poets Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 84
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robyn Schiff is the author of Worth (Iowa, 2002). She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she is the director of the undergraduate creative writing program. She also coedits Canarium Books.

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Table of Contents

Colt Rapid Fire Revolver 1

de la Rue's Envelope Machine 5

House of Schiaparelli 10

Singer Sewing Machine 15

McCormick's Reaper 18

Eighty-blade Sportsman's Knife, by Joseph Rogers & Sons 19

Iron Door Knocker the Shape of a Man's Face, by Feetham 22

Project Huia 25

Dear Ralph Lauren, 35

Multi-purpose Steamship Furniture, by Taylor & Sons 39

Lustron: The House America Has Been Waiting For 42

Silverware, by J. A. Henckels 46

H5N1 50

On the Abduction of Calvin Klein's Daughter Marci: A Captor's Narrative 53

Heroic Couplet 57

Project Paperclip 59

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