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Sleeping It Off in Rapid City
     

Sleeping It Off in Rapid City

by August Kleinzahler
 

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The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahler's career, Sleeping It Ofƒ in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary&

Overview

The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahler's career, Sleeping It Ofƒ in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and inspiration, and in these pages the poet also finds "This sanctified ground / Here, yes, here / The dead solid center of the universe / At the heartof the heart of America."

Editorial Reviews

Stephen Burt
Many poets try to sound tough, or masculine, or self-conscious about manhood, and fail miserably: what qualities let Kleinzahler succeed? His eye, and his ear—he is, first and last, a craftsman, a maker of lines—but also his range of tones, and his self-restraint: he never says more than he should, rarely repeats himself and keeps his focus not on the man who speaks the poems (and whose personality comes across anyway) but on what that man sees and on what he can hear.
—The New York Times Book Review
Dwight Garner
It makes a certain kind of sense…that Mr. Kleinzahler's career-spanning new book of poems, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle's pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahler's poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; you'll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease…[Mr. Kleinzahler] writes most often in a strongly accented free verse that is among the most articulate and alive sounds American poetry is currently making. He plays effortlessly with forms, voices, registers. And his range of cultural reference—from Catullus to Custer, from Lorca to Eric Dolphy—is wide and artfully deployed. Rarely does high, learned poetic art sound this casual.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The witty, gritty poet and memoirist Kleinzahler (The Strange Hours Travellers Keep) has produced chiseled, sometimes curt and finely observed free verse for decades. Kleinzahler has lived in Montreal, San Francisco, Vancouver, Portugal and Berlin; his sketches of characters and places from at least four continents include affectionately cynical portraits of hoodlums, odes to the autumn failures of baseball teams and swiftly cinematic depictions of Tartar hordes in medieval Europe, "ripping the ears off hussars." Hackensack, N.J.; the foggy Bay Area with its foggier ex-hippies; and northern European lakes and mountains all receive their due in a poetry that aspires to the feel of bebop and the delight of travel writing, that never bores and rarely repeats itself. New poems add to, rather than swerve away from, Kleinzahler's strengths in close observation and all-over-the-map diction, from slang to technical terms. Overheard speech in "Above Gower Street," a poem about the loneliness of international travel, ranges from an answering machine's anodyne messages to an explicit sexual come-on; in "Vancouver," "the neon mermaid over the fish place/ looks best that way, in the rain." This ninth book of poems and first trade press new-and-selected should bring this master of free verse lines even more admirers. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Kleinzahler's tone might be world-weary, his characters slightly frayed, but each poem in this retrospective collection is perfectly, breathtakingly balanced to deliver its own precise world-as it plunges, deceptively, into the deep heart of things. After decades, Kleinzahler got some deserved recognition with his NBCC win. (LJ5/15/08)


—Barbara Hoffert
From the Publisher

“Offbeat, off hand, subtle, and unsettling . . . Longer acquaintance with Kleinzahler's verse brings greater admiration.” —The Voice Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374265830
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City in 1949. He is the author of ten books of poems and a memoir, Cutty, One Rock. His most recent book of poetry, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, was awarded the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize. He lives in San Francisco.

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