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This Connection of Everyone with Lungs: Poems / Edition 1

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Overview

Part planetary love poem, part 24/7 news flash, the hypnotic poems of This Connection of Everyone with Lungs wrap with equal, angular grace around lovers and battleships. These poems hear the tracer fire in a bird's song and capture cell division and troop deployments in the same expansive thought. They move through concentric levels of association and embrace —from the space between the hands to the mesosphere and back again—touching everything in between. The book's focus shifts between local and global, public and private, individual and social. Everything gets in: through all five senses, through windows, between your sheets, under your skin.

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Editorial Reviews

Joel Brouwer
The hard-won verdict that ends the book, ''all of us / with all of that,'' is ambivalent, emotionally difficult, as it must be. The book seems, finally, like poetry from the 21st century, poised between trying to vault from the flatness of this new world and trying to inhabit it fully.
&3151; The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Innovative, incantatory, politically charged and decidedly accessible, Spahr's new volume consists of two linked prose poems, "Poem Written After Sept. 11, 2001" and the longer, more ambitious "Poem Written from November 30, 2002 to March 27, 2003." Both efforts imagine contemporary America ("how lovely and how doomed") as a polity nearly (but not quite) capable of collective action; as just one part of an interconnected globe; and as a place of isolated citizens, trying or failing to work together, especially in the protests that preceded-and failed to prevent-the war in Iraq. Like Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Spahr's work suggests a wartime diary, though it's a diary that incorporates many rhetorical devices (anaphora, prosopopoeia, quasi-Homeric lists), along with many snippets from the daily news. In addition to two prior volumes of poetry, Spahr (Response) has published an influential critical study (Everybody's Autonomy) and co-edits a prominent journal, Chain, devoted to international mixed-genre writing. The openness, and the fire, Chain readers cherish also informs Spahr's smart, angry poetic prose. "I speak of those dead in other parts of the world who go unreported," Spahr insists, and "of those moments when we do not understand why we must remain separated." Addressing her readers as "Beloveds," Spahr returns over and over to "the unanswerable questions of political responsibility." If she finds few answers, she certainly knows how to ask. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Huffington Post - Seth Abramson
“Spahr's sprawling paean to humankind is by turns spiritual and political, philosophical and practical. Few books attempt this sort of range, and fewer still succeed as dramatically as does this one. . . . Those who worry that contemporary poetry has lowered its sights from the peaks of previous epochs—opting for form and technique over the grandeur of the human imagination—can read this book and be heartened.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520242951
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Series: New California Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 86
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliana Spahr is a poet, critic, and editor. Among her books of poems are Fuck You—Aloha—I Love You and Response, winner of the National Poetry Series Award. She coedits the international arts journal Chain with Jena Osman.

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Read an Excerpt

This Connection of Everyone With Lungs

Poems


By Juliana Spahr

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS

Copyright © 2005 the Regents of the University of California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-520-93827-4



CHAPTER 1

poemwrittenafterseptember11/2001

There are these things:

cells, the movement of cells and the division of cells

and then the general beating of circulation

and hands, and body, and feet

and skin that surrounds hands, body, feet.

This is a shape,

a shape of blood beating and cells dividing.

But outside of this shape is space.

There is space between the hands.

There is space between the hands and space around the hands.

There is space around the hands and space in the room.

There is space in the room that surrounds the shapes of everyone's hands and body and feet and cells and the beating contained within.

There is space, an uneven space, made by this pattern of bodies.

This space goes in and out of everyone's bodies.

Everyone with lungs breathes the space in and out as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere and the space of the stratosphere in and out

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere and the space of the stratosphere and the space of the mesosphere in and out.

In this everything turning and small being breathed in and out by everyone with lungs during all the moments.

Then all of it entering in and out.

The entering in and out of the space of the mesosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the stratosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the troposphere in the entering in and out of the space of the oceans in the entering in and out of the space of the continents and islands in the entering in and out of the space of the nations in the entering in and out of the space of the regions in the entering in and out of the space of the cities in the entering in and out of the space of the neighborhoods nearby in the entering in and out of the space of the building in the entering in and out of the space of the room in the entering in and out of the space around the hands in the entering in and out of the space between the hands.

How connected we are with everyone.

The space of everyone that has just been inside of everyone mixing inside of everyone with nitrogen and oxygen and water vapor and argon and carbon dioxide and suspended dust spores and bacteria mixing inside of everyone with sulfur and sulfuric acid and titanium and nickel and minute silicon particles from pulverized glass and concrete.

How lovely and how doomed this connection of everyone with lungs.

Brooklyn, New York

CHAPTER 2

poemwrittenfromnovember30/2002 tomarch27/2003

Note ...

After September 11, I kept thinking that the United States wouldn't invade Afghanistan. I was so wrong about that.

So on November 30, 2002, when I realized that it was most likely that the United States would invade Iraq again, I began to sort through the news in the hope of understanding how this would happen. I thought that by watching the news more seriously I could be a little less naive. But I gained no sophisticated understanding as I wrote these poems.

September 11 shifted my thinking in this way. The constant attention to difference that so defines the politics of Hawai i, the disconnection that Hawai'i claims at moments with the continental United States, felt suddenly unhelpful. I felt I had to think about what I was connected with, and what I was complicit with, as I lived off the fat of the military-industrial complex on a small island. I had to think about my intimacy with things I would rather not be intimate with even as (because?) I was very far away from all those things geographically. This feeling made lyric—with its attention to connection, with its dwelling on the beloved and on the afar—suddenly somewhat poignant, somewhat apt, even somewhat more useful than I usually find it.


November 30, 2002

Beloveds, we wake up in the morning to darkness and watch it turn into lightness with hope.

Each morning we wait in our bed listening for the parrots and their chattering.

Beloveds, the trees branch over our roof, over our bed, and so realize that when I speak about the parrots I speak about love and their green colors, love and their squawks, love and the discord they bring to the calmness of morning, which is the discord of waking.

When I speak of the parrots I speak of all that we wake to this morning, the Dow slipping yet still ending in a positive mood yesterday, Mission Control, the stalled railcar in space, George Harrison's extra-large will, Hare Krishnas, the city of Man, the city of Danane and the Movement for Justice and Peace and the Ivorian Popular Movement for the Great West, homelessness and failed coups, few leads in the bombing in Kenya.

Today I still speak of the fourteen that are dead in Kenya from earlier in the week, some by their own choice and some by the choices of others, as I speak of the parrots.

And as I speak of the parrots I speak of the day's weather here, the slight breeze and the blanket I pull over myself this morning in the subtropics and then I speak also of East Africa, those detained for questioning, porous borders, the easy availability of fraudulent passports.

I speak of long coastlines and Alexandre Dumas's body covered in blue cloth with the words "all for one, one for all."

I speak of grandsons of black Haitian slaves and what it means to be French.

I speak of global jihad, radical clerics, giant planets, Jupiter, stars' gas and dust, gravitational accretion, fluid dynamics, protoplanetary evolution, the unstoppable global spread of AIDS.

When I speak of the parrots I speak of the pair of pet conures released sometime in 1986 or 1987 that now number at least thirty.

I speak of how they begin their day at sunrise and fly at treetop height southward to rest in the trees near our bed, beloveds, where they rest for about an hour to feed, preen, and socialize before moving on to search for fruits and seeds of wild plum, Christmas berry, papaya, strawberry guava, and other shrubs and trees that were, like them, like us, brought here from somewhere else.

I speak of our morning to come, mundane with the news of it all, with its hour of feeding, preening, and restrained socializing before turning to our separate computers and the wideness of their connections and the probable hourly changes of temperature between 79 and 80 degrees that will happen all day long with winds that begin the day at 12 mph and end it at 8 mph.

When I speak of the green of the parrots I speak of yous and me, beloveds, and our roosts at the bottom of the crater once called Le'ahi, now called Diamond Head, and I speak of those who encourage us to think of them as roosting with us, Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Justin Timberlake, Nick Carter, Rod Stewart, and Shania Twain.

And I speak of the flapping of parrots' wings as they come over the tree that reaches over the bed and the helpless flapping of our wings in our mind, our wings flapping as we are on our backs in our bed at night unable to turn over or away from this, the three-legged stool of political piece, military piece, and development piece, that has entered into our bed at night holding us down sleepless as the parrots have entered into this habitat far away from their origin because someone set them free, someone set them free, and they fly from one place to another, loudly, to remind us of our morning and we welcome this even, stuck on our backs in bed, wings flapping, welcome any diversion from the pieces of the three-legged stool.


December 1, 2002

Beloveds, yours skins is a boundary separating yous from the rest of yous.

When I speak of skin I speak of the largest organ.

I speak of the separations that define this world and the separations that define us, beloveds, even as we like to press our skins against one another in the night.

When I speak of skin I speak of lighting candles to remember AIDS and the history of attacks in Kenya.

I speak of toxic fumes given off by plastic flooring in a burning nightclub in Caracas.

I speak of the forty-seven dead in Caracas.

And I speak of the four dead in Palestine.

And of the three dead in Israel.

I speak of those dead in other parts of the world who go unreported.

I speak of boundaries and connections, locals and globals, butterfly wings and hurricanes.

I speak of one hundred and fifty people sheltering at the Catholic Mission in the city of Man.

I speak of a diverted Ethiopian airliner, US attacks on Iraqi air defense sites, and warnings not to visit Yemen.

Here, where we are with our separate skins polished by sweet-smelling soaps and the warm, clean water of our shower, we sit in our room in the morning and the sounds of birds are outside our windows and the sun shines.

When I speak of yours skins, I speak of newspaper headlines in other countries and different newspaper headlines here.

I speak of how the world suddenly seems as if it is a game of some sort, a game where troops are massed on a flat map of the world and if one looks at the game board long enough one can see the patterns even as one is powerless to prevent them.

I speak of the memory of the four floating icebergs off the coast of Argentina and the thirty thousand dead salmon in the Klamath River this year.

I speak of how I cannot understand our insistence on separations and how these separations have nothing and everything to do with the moments when we feel joined and separated from each others.

I speak of the intimate relationship between salmons and humans, between humans and icebergs, between icebergs and salmons, and how this is just the beginning of the circular list.

I speak of those moments when we do not understand why we must remain separated or joined only in the most mundane ways.

I speak of why our skin is our largest organ and how it keeps us contained.


I speak of the preservation of a balanced internal environment, shock absorbers, temperature regulators, insulators, sensators, lubrications, protections and grips, and body odor.

I speak of the Pew study on anti-Americanism and the three C's of the IRA—Columbia, Castlereagh, and Stormont Castle—and I speak of the unconfirmed dead in Iraq from the bombing of a refinery at Basrah.

When I speak of skin I speak of a slow day in the forces that are compelling all of us to be brushing up against one another.

When I speak of skin I speak of the crowds that are gathering all together to meet each other with various intents.

When I speak of skin I speak of all the movement in the world right now and all the new boundaries of the right now that are made by all the movement in the world right now and then broken by all the movement in the world right now.

But when I speak of skin I do not speak of the arbitrary connotations of color that have made all this brushing against one another even harder for all of us.

Beloveds, yours skins are of all colors, are soft and wrinkled, blotchy and reddish, full of blemish and smooth.

Our world is small, contained within 1.4 to 2 square meters of surface area.

Yet it is all the world that each of us has and so we all return to it, to the softening of it and to the defoliating of it and to the moisture that we bring to it.


December 2, 2002

As it happens every night, beloveds, while we turned in the night sleeping uneasily the world went on without us.

We live in our own time zone and there are only a small million of us in this time zone and the world as a result has a tendency to begin and end without us.

While we turned sleeping uneasily at least ten were injured in a bomb blast in Bombay and four killed in Palestine.

While we turned sleeping uneasily a warehouse of food aid was destroyed, stocks on upbeat sales soared, Australia threatened first strikes, there was heavy gunfire in the city of Man, the Belarus ambassador to Japan went missing, a cruise ship caught fire, on yet another cruise ship many got sick, and the pope made a statement against xenophobia.

While we turned sleeping uneasily perhaps J Lo gave Ben a prenuptial demand for sex four times a week.

While we turned sleeping uneasily Liam Gallagher brawled and irate fans complained that "Popstars: The Rivals" was fixed.

While we turned sleeping uneasily the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of whether university admissions may favor racial minorities.

While we turned sleeping uneasily poachers caught sturgeon in the reed-fringed Caspian, which shelters boar and wolves, and some of the residents on the space shuttle planned a return flight to the US.

Beloveds, our world is small and isolated.

We live our lives in six hundred square feet about a quarter mile from the shore on land that is seven hundred square miles and five thousand miles from the nearest land mass.

Despite our isolation, there is no escape from the news of how many days are left in the Iraq inspections.

The news poll for today was should we invade Iraq now or should we wait until the inspections are complete and we tried to laugh together at this question but our laughter was uneasy and we just decided to turn off the television that arrives to us from those other time zones.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from This Connection of Everyone With Lungs by Juliana Spahr. Copyright © 2005 the Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Poem Written after September 11, 2001
Poem Written from November 30, 2002, to March 27, 2003

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