We Don't Know We Don't Know

We Don't Know We Don't Know

by Nick Lantz
     
 

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Winner of the 2008 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry, Nick Lantz's poems introduce a startling new voice.

Taking its title from a dodging statement from former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, We Don't Know We Don't Know assesses what it means to claim new knowledge within a culture that professes to know everything already. The result

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Overview

Winner of the 2008 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Poetry, Nick Lantz's poems introduce a startling new voice.

Taking its title from a dodging statement from former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, We Don't Know We Don't Know assesses what it means to claim new knowledge within a culture that professes to know everything already. The result is a poetry that upends the deeply and dangerously assumed concepts of such a culture—that new knowledge is always better knowledge, that history is a steady progress, that humans are in control of the natural order. Nick Lantz's poems hurtle through time from ancient theories of physics to the CIA training manual for the practice of torture, from the history of the question mark to the would-be masterpieces left incomplete by the deaths of Leonardo da Vinci, Nikolai Gogol, Bruce Lee, and Jimi Hendrix. Selected by Linda Gregerson for the esteemed Bakeless Prize for Poetry, We Don't Know We Don't

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
On the moon,

astronaut David Scott drops a hammer and a falcon feather,

and we learn nothing

we didn’t already know.

—from “Ancient Theories”

Publishers Weekly
Exotic facts, “Ancient Theories” (one poem’s title), memorable quotations and familial griefs collide and mingle throughout this striking first collection from the Wisconsin poet Lantz. Lantz takes his title, and many epigraphs, from Donald Rumsfeld (“there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know”), but few of the poems pursue political causes. Instead, Lantz seems driven by quirky and quotable phrases, those he finds and those he creates—”As you know, the human head is the most/ commonly stolen body part”; “The whip/ makes a pleasing/ sound when it strikes.” Some pages suffer from gimmicks (“blank” lines, or words blacked out in a poem about secrets), and many others feel like collections of wonderful sentences, rather than like whole poems. Lantz’s best poems have traditional strengths and narrative surprises: “Thinking Makes It So” records a shockingly callous act, and “Of the Parrat and other that can speake” (another title from Pliny) reacts to the death of a parent, first with controlled humor, then with grief, and finally with sharpened irony—in a just world, anthologies would snap it up. (Mar.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555975524
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
03/02/2010
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,004,253
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Nick Lantz is the author of a second collection, The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors' House, which won the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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