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Testimony: The United States, 1885-1915: Recitative

4.6  ·  Rating details ·  105 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Published (first published 1965)
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Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
the simplicity of language used by reznikoff makes these poems extremely powerful. it was difficult to read too many of them in one sitting. i think this is the perfect example of poetry that doesn't strive for obscurity and instead focuses all efforts on expressing intensely emotional things. the language used is never emotional and instead the stark objectivity forces the situation directly upon you, giving you a more direct feeling of the experience.

because of the subject matter and the style
Paul Secor
Charles Reznikoff was trained as a lawyer, though he practiced law for only a short time. These poems are based on law reports, focused through the ear and eye of a master poet.
Jun 11, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Holy JEEZ! The fact that this is being reprinted is a BIG DEAL! Unless one was willing to part with his unemployment insurance for an half of the whole--and at $200, well...
Diego Munoz
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brutal book.

Each short poem is based on a true court document. Each one generally ends with one type of murder or another. Some are quite difficult to read, but all are quite addictive and beautifully written.

This is one of the few books of poetry which i have read from cover to cover. They resemble very short stories more than traditional poems, as they have very few metaphors and adjectives, etc.

Any of these poems could be expanded into a movie or book.

Having read this book, which i
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This was originally published at The Scrying Orb.

Okay. OK. The first thing this book will teach you is that…

…between the years of 1885 and 1915, an enormous amount of industrial accidents occurred in this country. Limbs caught in belts or spools and torn off, bodies crushed by debris or collapsing mine shafts, slick and poorly constructed scaffolding leading to great falls into chasms or machinery or boiling fat.

Also, a whole lot of people, a whole lot of children, were killed by trains.

All of t
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Brutal. Had to put it down around page 400. Instead of getting numb and slogging through the cavalcade of whittled down, flatly reported cases of death, dismemberment, and theft, I was starting to flinch around the book. Death in this very American book is not over there--it is in workplaces, families, bedrooms, streets, and bars. It comes from greed, stupidity, negligence, petty jealousies and momentary impulses.

from Testimony, The United States (1901 – 1910): Recitative
Charles Reznikoff

Jeff Buddle
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was reading Charles Reznikoff's poems while I was waiting for the dentist. This particular book is huge, more than 700 pages, a brick at best. The dentist herself saw my book. "what are you reading?" she asked. For me, it was hard to sum up. So what I said was,"It's a book of poems." My dentist laughed, and said, "So you're looking for something to relax you before you are tortured."

So there we have it. Poetry is supposed to be gentle, relaxing, flowers and hearts, unicorns.

Charles Reznikoff'
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finished volume 1 but I’ve bought the edition with all volumes. Excited to read it all.
This book is a long, grim litany of mayhem and violence - murder, rape, conspiracy, industrial accidents, railroad accidents, fraud, deceit, and treachery. Reznikoff takes only the facts of court decisions to craft his prose poems, so there is no account of the aftermath, or of any possible justice, just people doing terrible things and having terrible things done to them. I got a little past page 300, slightly more than halfway through, when I had to throw in the towel; without any catharsis, t ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is indeed a rough book to read, as it focuses primarily on heartache, murder, disfigurement, suffering, and loss. And yet, it’s pretty great too. Its style (Objectivism) is blunt, to the point, and utterly devoid of literary flourishes. The words mean what they mean and nothing besides.

Taken from court records between 1880 and 1915, “Testimony” reaches across time to illuminate forgotten (and jarringly common) moments of anguish. However, while the stories these poems tell are tough to abso
Neil Griffin
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling, addictive, and sad book about the preterite of America's history. Meaning, this is about people you won't read about in history books, since they were too busy robbing, killing, cheating, or were the ones being robbed, killed, and cheated in everyday life around the turn of the 20th century. All this crime told in pitch-perfect poetry that you can read like a story. Really haunting stuff and well worth checking out. I read this over a few months as sort of bed-time stuff to ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
vol II finished 5 December 2015
Aug 18, 2008 added it
CR delves into actual law cases, and the results are hair raising. he made the best use possible of his law degree with this work.
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  • “A”
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  • Curves to the Apple: The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, Reluctant Gravities
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  • The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets
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  • Selected Poems: Summer Knowledge
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  • The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China
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