Science and Steepleflower

Overview

Science & Steepleflower is a breakthrough book for Forrest Gander, a poet whose richness of language and undaunted lyric passion land him in traditions running from Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Duncan and Michael Ondaatje. His poetry has been called "desperately beautiful" by Thom Gunn in Agni Review, and "original and fascinating" by John Ashbery. With poems in the leading journals of the day--American Poetry Review, Grand Street, Conjunctions, The Boston Review, to name just a ...
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Overview

Science & Steepleflower is a breakthrough book for Forrest Gander, a poet whose richness of language and undaunted lyric passion land him in traditions running from Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Duncan and Michael Ondaatje. His poetry has been called "desperately beautiful" by Thom Gunn in Agni Review, and "original and fascinating" by John Ashbery. With poems in the leading journals of the day--American Poetry Review, Grand Street, Conjunctions, The Boston Review, to name just a few--Gander plumbs the erotic depths of human interaction with the land. The poems in Science & Steepleflower test this relationship with what Publisher's Weekly has called "an inbred (and often haunting) spirituality," bringing us to new vistas of linguistic and perceptive grace.
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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Monroe
[A]n exemplary glimpse into the possibilities of a certain range of poetry in the United States at the end of the 1990s...
Verse
First Intensity #14
[E]bbs and flows, opens and closes, between language's implosion of meaning and play. (First Intensity #14, Spring 2000)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Slowly pushing narrative poems to the linguistic breaking point, this ambitious, erudite fourth collection builds on the achievement of Gander's Deeds of Utmost Kindness (1994). The more intimate first person of earlier collections here largely gives way to a juxtaposition radically different vocabulariesof geology, physics, entomology; the vernacular of farmers and truckers; of sexual desireas Gander's speakers map the varying cages of human consciousness, turning to the pleasures of the physical (and gendered) world for respite: "Can you smell/ where analyses end, the orchard/ oriole begins? Slap her breasts lightly/ to see them quiver./ Delighting in this." Gander has consistently sought a current vocabulary for erotic poetry, but is also after larger game, contending with a broad range of historical moments. "The History of Manifest Destiny" (to pick one example from a section of "History" poems), penetratingly renders the everyday brutality of colonialism through the voice of explorer George Vancouver. At other points, such verbal channeling leads to archaic or syntactic opacity, as in a series of "Meditative[s]" and "Geometric Losses." But on the whole, Gander's is a lyrical and rigorous aesthetic that resolutely confronts the impassable screen of individual mind: "the brightest dark and darkest dark/ open huge their mouths. There is a disturbance like a kiss through which cognition disappears." (May)
Peter O'Leary
Science & Steepleflower is a major book. It is major in the feeling of readerly delight that humbles and awes on reading the book and then rereading it. And it is major in the way it asks the reader to look back on Gander's previous work and look forward to his next book...The poems in this book are dense but read like stories. Gander's poetic medium is the lyrical sentence, and in this respect he resembles Wallace Stevens more than any of his contemporaries. His vocabulary -- as the book's title indicates -- is detailed and surprising, and in this respect, he can sound like an American Hugh MacDiarmid, full of expostulations with seemingly revelatory intentions ... Science & Steepleflower is an incredibly rewarding book, to be missed by only the most obstinate reader.
Chicago Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811213813
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Paperbook Series
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Time and the Hour 3
Duration and Simultaneity 4
To Live Without Solace 5
Moon and Page Ghazal 7
The Ceremony of Opening the Mouth and the Eyes 8
Face 10
The Fine-Structure Constant 11
A Dissonance Leading to a Modulation 13
Field Guide to Southern Virginia 17
Exhaustible Appearance 25
The Ark Upon His Shoulders 27
Edge-Lit Scene 29
Escaped Trees of Lynchburg 31
Marginal Luminosity 33
Sinister 35
The History of Veneration 39
The History of Domesticity 41
The History of Manifest Destiny 43
The History of a Wobbling Axis 48
Orientation Roses, a History 50
Eggplants and Lotus Root 57
Deflection Toward the Relative Minor 77
Anniversary 79
Knife on a Plate 80
Deep Elm 83
Landscape With a Man Being Killed by a Snake 84
Garment of Light 86
Notes 88
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