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The Tranquilized Tongue: City Lights Spotlight No. 11

Overview


In the tradition of French poets like Francis Ponge, Pierre Reverdy, and René Char, The Tranquilized Tongue offers a series of prose meditations in the form of surrealist declaratives, each sentence unfolding like an alchemical riddle in which sounds, images, and figures appear, dissolve, and re-emerge to offer a glimpse of a complex unconscious roiling below the surface of everyday reality. Sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a sentence, occasionally just a fragment, each poem in The Tranquilized Tongue is a ...
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Overview


In the tradition of French poets like Francis Ponge, Pierre Reverdy, and René Char, The Tranquilized Tongue offers a series of prose meditations in the form of surrealist declaratives, each sentence unfolding like an alchemical riddle in which sounds, images, and figures appear, dissolve, and re-emerge to offer a glimpse of a complex unconscious roiling below the surface of everyday reality. Sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a sentence, occasionally just a fragment, each poem in The Tranquilized Tongue is a portal to new perspective on the everyday materials of reality as constituted through language itself. The postmodern classicism of language poetry meets the modernist romanticism of surrealism to startling effect in Baus's cabinet of curiosities. The eleventh volume of the City Lights Spotlight Poetry Series, The Tranquilized Tongue places Baus alongside such contemporary purveyors of the marvelous and speculative as Andrew Joron and Will Alexander.

Eric Baus received an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied with Peter Gizzi. Author of three previous poetry collections, including the prizewinning volumes The To Sound (2004) and The Scared Text (2011), Baus lives in Denver, Colorado, where he teaches writing and literature, works on digital audio archives of poetry, and co-edits Marcel Chapbooks.

"The poems comprising The Tranquilized Tongue propose a unique blend of Persian miniature and habanero pepper. The book is aburst with unremitting predication, each poem a merciless thought machine." —Nathaniel Mackey

“For over a decade now, Eric Baus has been one of the leading practitioners of a new kind of poem, one that draws as equally on the legacy of surrealism, the nouveau roman, and even the language poets, as it does on the Deep Listening practice of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier’s forays into resonant sound, the films of Charles and Ray Eames, and the voiceover of Sir David Attenborough narrating our insect and animal worlds. The Tranquilized Tongue speaks to us in a music capable of condensing geologic time into that of a microtonal interval: weird, warped, a little wobble on its newly hatched legs, this is a book where the word The will follow you like a gosling.” —Noah Eli Gordon

“Special objects in our multiple world—from eggs to kings, from bees to caskets, from wings to statues—spawn themselves with other teeming objects in a fertile generation of aphoristic actions calmed by the clarity of prose poems framed as linked short stories. The scintillating tensions between febrile nouns, adjectival properties, and active claims all in their phonemic bliss create an elegant surrealism charged with the primary mystery of Baus’s lexicon.” —Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Beginning with the Pocket Poets Series and the publication of Howl, City Lights has played a vital role in American poetry for over 50 years. City Lights Spotlight shines a light on the wealth of innovative American poetry being written today, publishing accomplished figures known in the poetry community as well as young emerging poets, using the cultural visibility of City Lights to bring their work to a wider audience. In doing so, we also seek to draw attention to those small presses publishing such authors.

As City Lights founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, wrote in his recent Poetry as Insurgent Art, “If you would be a poet, experiment with all manner of poetics . . . to create your own limbic, your own underlying voice, your ur voice.” With City Lights Spotlight, we seek to maintain this standard of innovation and inclusiveness, publishing highly original poetry from across the cultural spectrum, and reaffirming our longstanding commitment to this most ancient and stubbornly enduring form of art.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The poems comprising The Tranquilized Tongue propose a unique blend of Persian miniature and habanero pepper. The book is aburst with unremitting predication, each poem a merciless thought machine."—Nathaniel Mackey

"For over a decade now, Eric Baus has been one of the leading practitioners of a new kind of poem, one that draws as equally on the legacy of surrealism, the nouveau roman, and even the language poets, as it does on the Deep Listening practice of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier's forays into resonant sound, the films of Charles and Ray Eames, and the voiceover of Sir David Attenborough narrating our insect and animal worlds. The Tranquilized Tongue speaks to us in a music capable of condensing geologic time into that of a microtonal interval: weird, warped, a little wobbly on its newly-hatched legs, this is a book where the word The will follow you like a gosling."—Noah Eli Gordon

"Special objects in our multiple world--from eggs to kings, from bees to caskets, from wings to statues--spawn themselves with other teeming objects in a fertile generation of aphoristic actions calmed by the clarity of prose poems framed as linked short stories. The scintillating tensions between febrile nouns, adjectival properties, and active claims all in their phonemic bliss create an elegant surrealism charged with the primary mystery of Baus's lexicon."—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

"Eric Baus has always been a seering poet, creating language that means sound as much as it means anything, creating nothing out of anything and everything and vice versa. These poems start ringing through the glass of themselves as soon as you open the book and feel like the words of a tongue that has been tranquilized and is speaking to say why. A poem like 'The Molting Mouth' reads 'The word glass. / The word hand. / The word milk. / The word mirror.' In these four lines we are forced to see that a glass becomes a mirror only because we command it to, that we see our own reflection in poems only because the poet is kind enough, or cares enough, to command it to."—Dorothea Lasky, Poetry Magazine's Harriet Blog

"Eric Baus’s fourth book, is his best yet … Made as much of matter as of sound, [the poems are] an acoustical chamber where words, sounds, letters and images are constantly emerging, intermingling, echoing, and changing into other words, sounds, letters and images … This is a world of unpredictable and miraculous change, a world that is simultaneously philosophical and alchemical, an inseparable mixture of factual propositions and flights of fancy … Whereas Saussure believed that linguistic signs were immaterial, Baus posits that words are living beings.”—John Lau, Hyperallergic

"Extending his ongoing book-length exploration of the prose poem, there aren't many poets who work the abstract book-length fragment in the way that Baus does, or so well, managing an anchor of concrete sentences that somehow accumulate into something larger and far more nebulous … Through short, dense poems, Baus manages to utilize each sentence as a single point, accumulating those points into a far larger shape, one as much created by Baus as by each reader's experience."—Rob McLennan, The Small Press Book Review

From the Publisher

"The poems comprising The Tranquilized Tongue propose a unique blend of Persian miniature and habanero pepper. The book is aburst with unremitting predication, each poem a merciless thought machine."—Nathaniel Mackey

"For over a decade now, Eric Baus has been one of the leading practitioners of a new kind of poem, one that draws as equally on the legacy of surrealism, the nouveau roman, and even the language poets, as it does on the Deep Listening practice of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier's forays into resonant sound, the films of Charles and Ray Eames, and the voiceover of Sir David Attenborough narrating our insect and animal worlds. The Tranquilized Tongue speaks to us in a music capable of condensing geologic time into that of a microtonal interval: weird, warped, a little wobbly on its newly-hatched legs, this is a book where the word The will follow you like a gosling."—Noah Eli Gordon

"Special objects in our multiple world--from eggs to kings, from bees to caskets, from wings to statues--spawn themselves with other teeming objects in a fertile generation of aphoristic actions calmed by the clarity of prose poems framed as linked short stories. The scintillating tensions between febrile nouns, adjectival properties, and active claims all in their phonemic bliss create an elegant surrealism charged with the primary mystery of Baus's lexicon."—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872866164
  • Publisher: City Lights Books
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Series: City Lights Spotlight Series , #11
  • Pages: 70
  • Sales rank: 987,130
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Eric Baus was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1975. He is the author of The To Sound, selected by Forrest Gander for the Verse Prize (Wave Books, 2004), Tuned Droves (Octopus Books, 2009), and Scared Text, selected by Cole Swensen for the Colorado Prize for Poetry (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011). He is a graduate of the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as well as the PhD program in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Denver. For several years he has made technical, critical, and editorial contributions to digital audio archives of contemporary literature. Notes on PennSound, a series of commentaries investigating various aspects of the sonic and social environment of online poetry recordings recently appeared in Jacket2. He has taught creative writing and literature courses at Naropa University, University of Denver, University of Hartford, Regis University, and University of Massachusetts. An essay and exercise based on his experience working with elementary school students through the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program was published in the anthology Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney's, 2013). With Andrea Rexilius, he co-edits Marcel Chapbooks. He lives in Denver.
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