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The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish
At the heart of Joshua Weiner’s new book is an extended poem with a bold political dimension and great intellectual ambition. It fuses the poet’s point of view with Walt Whitman’s to narrate a decentered time-traveling collage about Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac that runs through Washington, DC. For Weiner, Rock Creek is the location of myriad kinds of movement, s ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published March 20th 2013 by University of Chicago Press
(first published February 27th 2013)
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There are many reasons to read this book, including the magnificent title poem. But the main reason is the long sequence entitled "Rock Creek," a passionate, fertile intertwining of the poet's voice with that of Whitman's journals. The effect is exhilarating in its lyric leaps and lists, its overlay of past and present, and the depth of seeing that fills these pages with eloquent elegiac beginnings. Weiner has long been regarded as a poet of formal precision; he does not divert from that baselin ...more
If I overrate poetry (both on this site & in my life), it is because of lines like these, from Joshua Weiner's The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed By a Fish, that address themselves to our cultural situation from a discrete remove: "The eye | may shut | but | the ear has | no door cavern | voices enter | and echo | ever after || The morning wheel turns | the owl's cry | only a dream now, | and sunflower turns | tracking the day's burning || So much to look after | Hold out your hands, | feel the ...more
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