Julene's Reviews > King of Shadows

King of Shadows by Aaron Shurin
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's review
Nov 23, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended to Julene by: Open Books, owners
Read in January, 2009

Stellar, elevated English, essays by a poet. Aaron Shurin came to read from this book of essays at Open Books, a poetry bookstore in Seattle, because the owners love his writing. He read three short essays each from a different summer. He teaches, and for his summer break he rents a house near home but far enough away to have a true break, there he immerses in a practice of reading: Proust; The Road to Xanadu (about Coleridge and his writing the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner), and Don Quixote.
What I like most about this book is his ability to word the ordinary in an extradinary way. He is a gay man who lives in San Franciso, so in addition to the many flowers he describes deliciously, there is much writing about the urban life, written in his mature, academically educated, and gay, sensibility. He knows the literature of Whitman, Shakespeare, Virginia Wolf and Dante, he has studied with Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. His essays about writing are an ars poetica supreme.
One sentence, "...the poem's everyday agenda is to read the world's hidden text of correspondences." Wow.
Another, " To write in poetic mode as a discoverer is to patiently house a biomorphic disposition, an itch in the mind, a disequilibrium that is an urge toward clarification or expression, at once a lack an an excess. It's a means by which a community of vital intetersts is visited upon the mononuclear family of meaning..." He goes on.
There is much in this book, including much on identity. Read it if you can, live with it for awhile, enjoy.

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