The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry

Overview

The eagerly awaited follow-up to his critically acclaimed collection The Daily Mirror, The Evening Sun gathers together 150 of David Lehman's favorite "daily poems" from 1999 and 2000 into a brilliant chronicle of a poet's heart and mind as the last century ends and a new one begins.

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The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry

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Overview

The eagerly awaited follow-up to his critically acclaimed collection The Daily Mirror, The Evening Sun gathers together 150 of David Lehman's favorite "daily poems" from 1999 and 2000 into a brilliant chronicle of a poet's heart and mind as the last century ends and a new one begins.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The serial method of this poem-a-day "journal," a sequel to 2000's The Daily Mirror, allows Lehman to try on several suits in the course of 100-plus pages on April 22, he is a nihilistic sharpshooter as he mock denies the events of the Holocaust in a sort of list-curse ("nor were the windows of synagogues and Jewish shopkeepers/ smashed in November 1938"), while two days later he is ruminating, like a Dada Seinfeld, on the fact that many people mean "fuck you" when they say "thank you," but never the converse: "All roads lead to the Rome of `fuck you'/ get it?" These page-or-less poems, while they can be formally quite refined, often come off as skilled but unambitious pastiches of the styles of the New York School poets Lehman has written about in The Last Avant-Garde and elsewhere: Ashbery, Koch, O'Hara, and the like. The ingredients, somewhat updated, are often there Nicole Kidman and Ben Affleck, autumn leaves and French rap music, as well as several unnamed lovers but Lehman's speaker affects a courtly, sometimes brash humor that most often reads like a disguise for a clinical indifference: "They now call/ downtown New York/ ...the `canyon of heroes'/ a great phrase/ that I shall use/ for the canal zone between/ your lovely lithe legs," ends one failed (pre9/11) attempt at Herrick-like eros. Lehman's compulsive chronicle is at its best when his joke-machine is unfettered by self-reflection and he's got a few historical references to throw around ("George Steinbrenner/ is as frightened of the Mets/ as Nixon was of the brothers Kennedy"), giving readers a carefully tempered New York tinged with the tone of earlier greats. (Apr.) Forecast: Lehman edits the Best American Poetry (Scribner) and Poets on Poetry (Michigan) series, curates a reading series at New York's KGB Bar which resulted in the KGB Reader (Morrow) and is on the core faculty of the writing programs at New York's New School and Vermont's Bennington College. His frequent reviewing and nonfiction work give him a high profile outside of poetry; expect solid sales in and out of the academy, and possible post-September 11 New York interest, though these poems were written in 2000. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This volume comes on the heels of The Daily Mirror, Lehman's first experiment with writing a poem a day. As he says in his introduction, he had so much fun that "I didn't want to give up the habit" when that book was completed. Fun is the operative word here. Lehman toys not only with language but with the journal form itself, juxtaposing poems from a two-year period as if only a year has passed and even supplying new dates for poems that overlap. Lehman, who has written extensively on the New York School poets, draws on their sense of the everyday, but he's also able to break through their limited concerns and experiences. His erudition is displayed in the variety of subjects the poems touch on: jazz, the Greek classics, Heisenberg, politics, fatherhood, and the stock market. To a greater or lesser degree, the majority of the poems focus on sex or death, including the death of his father. It's slightly ironic that Lehman, general editor of "The Best American Poetry" annuals, might not find here a single poem worthy of inclusion, but the volume as a whole nevertheless delights. Recommended for most collections. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743225526
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 3/26/2002
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. His books of poetry include New and Selected Poems, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School and lives in New York City and in Ithaca, New York.

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Read an Excerpt


JANUARY 23

ODE TO MODERN ART

Come on in and stay a while

I'll photograph you emerging from the revolving door

like Frank O'Hara dating the muse of modern art

Talking about the big Pollock show is better

than going to it on a dismal Saturday afternoon

when my luncheon partner is either the author or the subject

of The Education of Henry Adams at a hard-to-get-

a-table-at restaurant on Cornelia Street

just what is chaos theory anyway

I'm not sure but it helps explain "Autumn Rhythm"

the closest thing to chaos without crossing the border

I think you should write that book on Eakins and also the one

on nineteenth-century hats the higher the hat the sweller the toff

and together we will come up with Mondrian in the grid of Manhattan

Gerald Murphy's "Still Life with Wasp" and the best Caravaggio in the country

in Kansas City well it's been swell, see you in Cleveland April 23

The reason time goes faster as you grow older is that each day

is a tinier proportion of the totality of days in your life

(appeared in the online magazine Jacket)

Copyright © 2002 by David Lehman

MARCH 19

*

They were wrong

for whom success

was sweetest. It's

failure that interests

me. It's why

I like movies

that look like

they were filmed

down under the

Manhattan Bridge overpass

a raw March

Sunday, warehouses empty,

black and white

and always 1953,

and the hero

believes in nothing

like the waiter

in Hemingway who

prays to nada

our nada who

art nada nada

be thy name

(appeared in the Boston Review)

Copyright © 2002 by David Lehman

MAY 26

*

In Rotterdam I'm

going to speak about

the state of poetry

on a panel with a Pole

and a Turk. It's worth

being alive to utter

that sentence. A

German from Fürth,

my father's hometown

and Henry Kissinger's,

will preside. His name

is Joachim Sartorius,

which sounds like a

pseudonym Kierkegaard

might use to condemn

the habits of his age

and ours when nothing

ever happens but the

publicity is immediate

and the town meeting

ends with the people

convinced they have

rebelled so now they

can go home quietly

having spent a most

pleasant evening

(appeared in Antioch Review)

Copyright © 2002 by David Lehman

AUGUST 25

COMMENCEMENT

They're calling old people seniors

short for senior citizens but it's as though

they're still in college and can look forward

to graduate school at Purgatory State

or the University of the Damned and

I can see this poem is intent on being Catholic

though it started out agnostic

Maybe that's because I was talking

to Ed Webster on the phone tonight

and he described himself as an agnostic

who got a job teaching at a Catholic school

in the South Bronx or maybe because I was reading

the classifieds in the Daily News today

and several greeted dead ones in heaven

in any case I like seniors maybe the rest of us

are juniors and sophomores and we still have

the junior prom and all that romantic angst

to go through before we reach the holy land

(appeared in The Paris Review)

Copyright © 2002 by David Lehman

NOVEMBER 30

*

What a night what a light what a moon

white with patches of blue snow & here I am

striding longlegged to the bar on East 4th Street

Never was a Martini more deserved

The hot water pipe in my apartment sprang a leak

soaking a couple dozen books, magazines, files

There is renewed evidence of mice

My left eye has begun to twitch

after two and a half hours on the Taconic

and then to play War & Chicken on New York streets

but I had Mingus and "Fables of Faubus"

to keep me awake while you slept

and now the city, which suspended its activity

in my absence, has come back to me

with exciting new crises a haystack of mail

and thee O silver moon

(appeared in Five Points)

Copyright © 2002 by David Lehman

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