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Sad Little Breathing Machine
     

Sad Little Breathing Machine

by Matthea Harvey
 

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Harvey, whose debut collection was praised by the New Yorker
as "intensely visual, mournfully comic and syntactically inventive," offers her second stunning collection

Units are the engines
I understand best.

One betrayal, two.
Merrily, merrily, merrily.
-from "Introduction to the World"

In Sad Little

Overview

Harvey, whose debut collection was praised by the New Yorker
as "intensely visual, mournfully comic and syntactically inventive," offers her second stunning collection

Units are the engines
I understand best.

One betrayal, two.
Merrily, merrily, merrily.
-from "Introduction to the World"

In Sad Little Breathing Machine, Matthea Harvey explores the strange and intricate mechanics of human systems-of the body, of thought, of language itself. These are the engines, like poetry, that propel both our comprehension and misunderstanding. "If you're lucky," Harvey writes, "after a number of / revolutions, you'll / feel something catch."

"I pictured myself arriving at an amusement park, only none of the rides are familiar. I considered running away. I could break my neck or be catapulted into the sky. I might never be seen again. It's only poetry, I reminded myself, and climbed on board. I'm tossed and bucked and jabbed and lashed and flipped. I'm having a nearly insane amount of fun, and I don't want it to ever end." --James Tate

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Taut and up-to-the-minute in its intellectual and its formal concerns, Harvey's sophomore effort seems sure to consolidate her status as a young poet to watch. In acute unrhymed couplets, typographically teasing experiments and titles as oddly audacious as the poems themselves ("O the Zoetrope & the Periscope Should Be Friends"), Harvey explores the possibility that people are nothing more than desiring machines; the chance that she and her friends are as predictable as physical law or ephemeral as gossip; and the countervailing weight of love and want. An early poem propositions readers, "Invent the sun & edition the trees": later she explains "I am no relation/ to the sky but to the mechanical// dragon wrapped in tissue paper," or exclaims enticingly, "Frond-fond & pond-proud/ we sugar the obstacle dark." Harvey characteristically combines childhood (or teen) scenes with material from philosophical or literary theory: "Girls who could see around/ corners whispered `or'/ to one another." Though many younger poets share her interests, few match her verbal assurance, nor her skill in knowing when to stop. Harvey (Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form) also includes a series of prose poems constructed like fairy tales (such as "The Transparent Heir Apparent"); these allegorical stories ballast what might otherwise seem an overexcited, or overly elliptical, collection. Admirers of Brenda Hillman, or even Anne Carson, may find here a new favorite. And although fans of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus-based desiring machines may find the scale here claustrophobic, reduction is precisely the poet's problematic, explored with force and imagination. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555973964
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
03/01/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,191,761
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.95(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sad Little Breathing Machine


By Matthea Harvey

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2004 Matthea Harvey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-396-5


Chapter One

INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD For the time being call me Home. All the ingenues do. Units are the engines I understand best. One betrayal, two. Merrily, merrily, merrily. Define hope. Machine. Define machine. Nope. Like thoughts, the geniuses race through. If you're lucky

after a number of revolutions, you'll

feel something catch.

FIRST PERSON FABULOUS First Person fumed & fizzed under Third Person's tongue while Third Person slumped at the diner counter, talking, as usual, to no one. Third Person thought First Person was the toilet paper trailing from Third Person's shoe, the tiara Third Person once wore in a dream to a funeral. First Person thought Third Person was a layer of tar on a gorgeous pink nautilus, a foot on a fountain, a tin hiding the macaroons & First Person was that nautilus, that fountain, that pile of macaroons. Sometimes First Person broke free on first dates (with a Second Person) & then there was the delicious rush of "I this" and "I that" but then no phone call & for weeks Third Person wouldn't let First Person near anyone. Poor First Person. Currently she was exiled to the world of postcards (having a lovely time) - & even then that beast of a Third Person used the implied "I" just to drive First Person crazy. She felt like a television staring at the remote, begging to be turned on. She had so many things she wanted to say. If only she could survive on her own, she'd make Third Person choke on herself & when the detectives arrived & all eyes were on her, she'd cry out, "I did it! I did it! Yes, dahlings, it was me!" EVERYTHING MUST GO Today's class 3-Deifying: Godgrass, Godtrees, Godroad. A sheet of geese bisects the rainstorm. The water tower is ten storms full. We practice drawing cubes - that's the house squared away

& the incubator with Baby. The dead are in their grid. O the sleeping bag contains the body but not the dreaming head.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sad Little Breathing Machine by Matthea Harvey Copyright © 2004 by Matthea Harvey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Matthea Harvey is the author of Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. She is the poetry editor of American Letters & Commentary and lives in Brooklyn.

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