by Susan Wheeler

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Often a dance of malapropism, jarring surrealist and pop imagery, violent pastiche and merciless non sequiturs, Wheeler's second book falls somewhere between John Ashbery and Charles Bernstein in its high-end schtick appropriation and baroque, metaphysical strains. It signals a further rapprochement of the militantly ironic stance of the postmodern with the comforting, middle-classy closures of the sentimental lyric, as announced in the cheeky opening homage to Robert Frost, which is singled out by Robert Hass in his afterword: "The girls are drifting in their ponytails/ and their pig iron boat. So much for Sunday./ The dodo birds are making a racket/ to beat the band. You could have come too." Among other vaguely discernible narratives, "Casino Night" finds the poet faced with a choice between reading and "Hook's Casino": "I got the roil of/ American swells, the bugs and the sad TV sedimentation,/ the gamboling cells under glass in the stratified light,/ a limpid one-two over chips on the felt./ I might not be right." Others, like the single sentence elegy "Song for the Spirit of Natalie Going," rollick on a dense info-stream of alliteration reminiscent of a howling, be-bop Hopkins: " seersucker bib, overalled, astonished, in dazzling fix/ on the small crawling lights in their spaceship of night.../ bezzed by mobile HEH HEH..." While some poems seem based more on a heavily allusive but unstated argument for a postmodern poetry rather than the mundane, but felt, need for it, the book's desire to astound, contort, pervert and yet sing at all turns makes it a singular delight. (June)

Product Details

Four Way Books
Publication date:
Award Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.25(d)

What People are saying about this

Robert Hass
...What makes Smokes such an exhilarating and unexpected performance is not the idiom, which Ms. Wheeler has down and carries off with brio, but her witty ear....Smokes contains elegies, poems of urban and domestic angst, laments, invectives, cakewalks, struts...

Meet the Author

SUSAN WHEELER is on the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at The New School for Social Research. She lives in New York City. She has received a Pushcart Prize and two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts; her first poetry collection, Bag 'o' Diamonds (Georgia, 1993) was chosen by James Tate to receive the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry.

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