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Res Publica
     

Res Publica

by Alan Williamson, James Longenbach
 

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Res Publica faithfully moves from the private to the public, from individual experience to civic responsibility through an elegy for the 1960s and the world that has become our own.

Overview

Res Publica faithfully moves from the private to the public, from individual experience to civic responsibility through an elegy for the 1960s and the world that has become our own.

Editorial Reviews

Jenn Lewin
In his first book, Longenbach lays bare a continuous quest for connections between people and landscapes, parents and children, past and present selves. . . . His genuine, honest interest in how 'things accumulate/As if from nothing,' confronts the uneasy consequences of trying to map one's ideals onto the world. -- Boston Review
Robert Pinsky
James Logenbach's Threshold stands out among the first books of poetry for its intelligence and thematic coherence: this is a book about fear, particularly the fear that outside of normality disaster waits. The subject is treated without melodrama on one side or complacency on the other. This is an admirable and splendidly promising book.
Phoenix Poets Series
Library Journal
Using allusions (to Buddha, Einstein, Puccini, etc.) and italicized phrases and words, these elliptical, intense poems by the author of Love and the Soul (Univ. of Chicago, 1995) reach for connections between high art and mass culture (headlines, laser arcades, movie stars, rock bands); the title of his collection, after all, means "public matters." These sharp-edged poems strike home when they engrave "lineaments" of a modern consciousness struggling to overcome loss of power, internal tension ("the charmed life, the afflicted life"), and restless anomie: "the spaces inside the moment." At their best, poems about the "pearly, brooding days" of an intellectual's experience evoke "half-vanished" borderline nuances of transience: "the poignant/ half-thereness of summer twilights." Like a Hopper canvas, "place of arrivings, going into nowhere," this work reveals a critical sense of how "feelingless" and lonely the landscape is "out into America, under the thick, full stars." Recommended for all contemporary collections.--Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA
Tikkun
[O]ffers readers a fresh meditation on the turmoil, passionate social commitment, and sense of overwhelming political and cultural change that defined the 1960's...In poems that effectively mix a sense of conversational language with lyric intensity. of personal story becoming history, Williamson inquires into the meaning of a period we are just beginning to understand.
Kirkus Reviews
From the author of a handful of distinguished academic studies of modern poetry (Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism, 1988, etc.), a debut collection that's surprisingly direct and fresh-sounding, and bears none of the heavy allusiveness one might expect from this Univ. of Rochester professor. Which is not to say that Longenbach isn't high-minded and, at times, relentlessly abstract, but his crisp phrasing and thematic consistency make this a volume worth sticking with: his meanings accrue with each poem. Meditative and often somber, Longenbach's measured verse explores the boundaries between human and spiritual existence, between man and nature, between parent and child, and between the everyday and the transcendent. He neatly avoids sentimentality in a number of poems on children: "The Origin of Angels" lingers on his daughter's sleeping form; "Play with Me" records a painful test of wills; and two poems ("A Dog, a Horse, a Rat" and "The Possibilities") imagine the worst-the loss of a child. Longenbach's unabashed domesticity leads him to contemplate its foundation in houses: a burglary disturbs by what the burglar leaves behind ("Burglary"), how "real," he wonders, is real estate ("Real Estate"), and a burnt-out house reveals a randomness ("Any House You Know"). Prominent among the book's thresholds are rites of passage-the transgressions of childhood, love's first treacheries-as well as the desire to escape solitude through the stories of others.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226899350
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
11/28/1998
Series:
Phoenix Poets Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
82
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Robert Pinsky
James Longenbach's Threshold stands out among first books of poetry for its intelligence and thematic coherence; this is a book about fear, particularly the fear that outside of a charmed circle of normality disaster waits. . .An admirable and splendidly promising book.

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