With Strings / Edition 1

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A companion to the critically acclaimed My Way, his 1999 montage of essays, conversations, and poems, With Strings catapults Charles Bernstein into the future of American poetry. A compilation of sixty-nine poems in various forms and styles, dating mostly from the 1990s, With Strings is his most buoyant collection to date. With its fractured nursery rhymes, distressed mottoes, runcible riddles, and inscrutable sayings, Bernstein takes us on a poetic trip that swerves from the comic to the political, from the whimsical to the elegiac. The whole presents a densely sounded echo chamber in which a range of themes, moods, and perceptions extend and reverberate.

Charles Bernstein is perhaps best known as one of the founders of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry movement of the 1970s. He remains one of America's liveliest advocates and practitioners of radically inventive poetry. The title of his new collection, With Strings, suggests the lush arrangement of a musical work as well as the unacknowledged implications of our everyday agreements. Just as language binds us together with its associated meanings, With Strings bounces against the ties that rend us apart as they fasten us together. From his samplings of everyday life, to his demented yet sonorous iambic beats, Bernstein has once again created a poetry of our time, for our time, and by our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"These statements are based on current expectations and projects about the aesthetic environment and assumptions made by the author and are not guarantees of future performativity," writes Bernstein in "Today's Not Opposite Day," one of many cagey, slapstick satires in his large new collection. Bernstein has never been an easy pleasure, from the early minimalist sensibility of his Language-oriented work, through his prose poems, collage pieces, and recent poetic incarnation as borscht belt professor. These poems nevertheless reflect a growing comfort with the role of public intellectual and avuncular proselyte for all things radical, marked by a decisive turn toward vaudevillian satire: "the toilet seat is down now/ it's there I plan to sit/ until I find that doggy bag/ I lost while just a kid." Many poems are nail-scratchingly obvious in their form, as in the inverted ballad or "Besotted Desquamation," in which every line in the poem contains four words beginning with the same letter "marshalling muted might majestically," and are in deep engagement with the most mundane modes of culture. This rationale for writing very "bad" poetry makes one put all aesthetic and by extension social and moral judgments in scare quotes, pitting the reader against the very value system that may have brought him or her to the poem itself: "& the moral/ of that is: If you kill the spirit/ in others, you kill it in yourself./ & the moral of that is: Watch the slings and arrows & the automatic/ weapons will get you every time." There is no real way to determine where the plentiful filler ends and reality begins, or where the poem ends and the jacket copy starts, which seems to be Bernstein's entailed,`self'-defeating intent ("suspicion/ in the travail/ made foam"), forcing readers to recognize and confront their formal and ideological chaff. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226044606
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 139
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Bernstein is the David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to My Way: Speeches and Poems, he is the author of two collections of essays, A Poetics and Content's Dream, and more than twenty books of poems, including Islets/Irritations and Republics of Reality: 1975-1995.
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Table of Contents

In Place of a Preface a Preface
Thinking I Think I Think
Ballad of Blue Green Plate
Fiddle of the Rat Faced Men
Total Valor
But Pharaoh Did Not Listen to Moses
Two Places at Once
Captain Cappuccino and His Merry Con Leches
From Talk Alone You Don't Get a Poem
Immanuel Can't but Sammy Can
In Between
Polynesian Days
Nickey, Turn Off the Lights (2)
The Age of Correggio and the Carracci
Like This
The Impunity of Garden Flowers
Johnny Cake Hollow
The Manufacture of Negative Experience
The Knees Have It
The Human Abstract
Poem Composed for Jackson Mac Low
Doggy Bag
The Throat
Little Orphan Anagram
Common Stock
The Smell of Cheap Cigars
Max Weber's Favorite Tylenol for Teething
American Boy with Bat
Cover Up Me for I Cannot Myself Cover
Echo Off (Use Other Entrance)
Lily's Dream
Continuity of Affiliation/Disabling Capacity
The Emotional Truth
Your Ad Here
Empty Biscuits
If Gif Were a Place
Ruminative Ablution
Today's Not Opposite Day
Peanut Butter and Jellyfish
Mr. Matise in San Diego
Egg Under My Feet
Low Regrets
It's Always Fair Measure
Besotted Desquamation
O! Li Po!
Contagious Proximity
Windows 95
Pinot Blanco
My God Has an Attitude Problem
The Holler
The Inevitable Flow of Material Things Through the Pores of the Years
Hoods and Scatters
These Horses Do Not Move Up and Down
The Stepmother's Hunger
"This Us Is Only ..."
Ms. Otis Regrets
The Boy Soprano
No More Cartwheels Off the Dock
Frequently Unasked Questions
Why We Ask You Not to Touch
Make It Snappy & That's Final
Sprung Monuments
This Poem Intentionally Left Blank
Log Rhythms
Notes and Acknowledgments
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