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In this collection of poems we indeed meet the famous persons promised in the title: Lon Chaney, Jr. buying eggs and bananas at a Capistrano Beach supermarket; Elvis "slipping out / with raccoons and owls to buy pink / Cadillacs for anyone that moved him;" Marshal Dillon, his head split by a surfing mishap; even Geronimo, galloping back toward nature, "ruined for love." But this books is about more than famous people. From the car and kokanee-chocked waters of Montana to an art gallery in Utah where the narrator doesn't meet a famous poet laureate, Robbins traces his own heritage and ours by connecting past and present, the dead and living. He does so with sly humor, a naturalist's precision, and a potent lyricism. The cumulative effect is that of a building rhythm that echoes our own trembling relationship to the land that somehow sustains us—"because," as the narrator says in "Bread," the collection's final poem, "feeding / the hungry is what it's always all about."
|Publisher:||Eastern Washington University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.01(w) x 8.99(h) x 0.27(d)|
About the Author
RICHARD ROBBINS grew up in California and Montana. His first collection, The Invisible Wedding, was published in 1984. Over the years, Robbins has received awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, the McKnight Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently directs the creative writing program and the Good Thunder Reading Series at Minnesota State University, and lives in Mankato with his wife, the poet Candace Black, and their two sons.
Table of Contents
FAMOUS PERSONS WE HAVE KNOWN
Lon Chaney, Jr., at the Supermarket in Capistrano Beach
Roethke on Film
The Bulldog Edition of The Los Angeles Times
Coming Back to Life
Artists and Their Garages
George McGovern Campaign Rally, San Diego, 1972
Surfing Accident at Trestles Beach
"To My Very Good Friend, [Signed] Jimmy Hoffa"
On Not Introducing Myself to the Poet Laureat When We Both Shopped for Art at the Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City
The High Lake Past the Field
May on the Wintered-Over Ground
Crossing the Arctic Waste with Ana
VIEWS OF TABLE BAY
Skin Diving over the Shelf
The Dock in Winter
Lookout on Miller Point
FRACTION HYMNS AND SONNETS OUT OF TOWN
Georgic After an Argument
Stocking Rock Creek
Self-Guided Tour to Avalanche Lake
Two Days at Arch Cape
Essay on Rime
Man Burned for Spying
After Being Quiet for a Long Time
On the Train Across America in 1902
Moon in Smoke, Teton Park
How November Comes
After the Miracle
Our Empty House
The Lunar Driver
What People are Saying About This
"This is the most colorful book of poems I've read in recent years. There is something fresh in almost every line, and when I came to the end of the last poem, I felt I'd been given a world."
"This is a humorous, sly, savvy book that explodes our national obsessionthese poems are rooted in the weird conglomeration of movies, pop culture, and nature, where we haunt the landscape like the ghosts of fame we imagine at every gas station, grocery store, suburban mall, waiting for mysterious encounters with ineffableElvis or Godsomething to transform us, infuse us with passion, lead us out of the darkness of ordinary life."
"Famous Persons We Have Known draws us to it with the deep resonance of a great river or lake, one which reflects our inner landscape. The poems are grounded in the geography of the American Westits seasons, its people, its destructionand lifted by the music Robbins coaxes out of language. They reveal a sympathy with nature and a passion for humane awareness in a culture which often seems to tell us merely to consume and, "Be happy you know nothing." The collection's final lines, about loved ones we must mourn, also apply to these poems, perhaps to all poems good enough to move us profoundly: 'They are feeding us, even as they leave. / They are inside of us, kneeling and singing. / They break us and tear from within / as if we were bread. They help us / turn new into the life we didn't know was already here.'"