Splay Anthem
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Splay Anthem

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by Nathaniel Mackey
     
 

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In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey's "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and histories—from America to Andalucía, from Ethiopia to Vienna—in a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance.

Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey's newSee more details below

Overview

In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey's "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and histories—from America to Andalucía, from Ethiopia to Vienna—in a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance.

Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey's new collection of poems, Splay Anthem, takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces. Divided into three sections—"Braid," "Fray," and "Nub" (one referent Mackey notes in his stellar Introduction: "the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, the shrunken place the earth has become, planet Nub")—Splay Anthem weaves together two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years, Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu" (though "mu no more itself / than Andoumboulou").

In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Miró painting, Mackey's poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dreamtime, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth's music, spirit lift.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Published in installments across several decades, Mackey's two epic series-one called Mu, the other Song of the Andoumboulou-bring the attitudes of free jazz and the reverberating patterns of West African ensemble music to the goals of the American encyclopedic long poem a la Charles Olson. The mysterious, even hermetic, new verse extends both of Mackey's epics, even (as his prose foreword explains) merging them, so that they form one enormous text describing a mystical quest. Mackey's figures seek the source of inspiration, and his dense stanzas track their uneven progress; "We" pursue it, by foot, train or boat, into realms of fable and myth, via chants, archival and esoteric references, portmanteau words and archeological research. "Atless" (that is, lost without a map) and given to interjections like "wuh," Mackey's crew crosses the "City of Lag" on the "Not Yet Express," as the poet himself sends his spirit "up/ Unreal Street unstrung" in search of new sounds and rituals. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Three sections ("Braid," "Fray," and "Nub") continuing two serial poems ("Song of the Andoumboulou" and "Mu") that have been appearing over the last two decades here add up to one National Book Award winner. This rich, rhythmic account of the Dogon cosmology of West Africa makes for nonstop reading. (LJ8/06)


—Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal - Library Journal
Comprising the continuation of two ongoing serial poems, Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu," this engrossing new work recounts the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa in rich, rhythmic language. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811216524
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
05/05/2006
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
973,557
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida in 1947, and grew up in California. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including a Whiting Writer's Award in 1993 and election to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001. His work has been widely anthologized, and he is the author of several books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. He edits the literary journal Hambone and co-edited the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose. A recording of his poems read with musical accompaniment was released in 1995—Strick (Spoken Engine Co.). Mackey is currently Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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