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Broken World

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  31 reviews
With musical grace critics have likened to that of Robert Creeley, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Carlos Williams, Joseph Lease mixes a storyteller’s rhythm with lyric beauty to create a collection filled with humor, political bite, and psychological intensity. In a country where “money has won everywhere,” but the essential promise of democracy still beckons, these poems u ...more
Paperback, 70 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Coffee House Press
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Average rating 4.57  · 
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C. Varn
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Broken World begins with two elegiac poems--the second functioning almost explicitly as a eulogy--and Lease strips the language down to the bone. One can very much feel Robert Creeley's influence here, but Lease tends to go back to more prosaic in form as the lyrics go on and prose poems break up the rhythm. The effect is interesting and feels a bit like a fugue, but a passionate one, where one is grasping for a self, only to have decentered and deconstructed. These poems do go into both the ...more
mwpm mwpm
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Reading Broken World, I'm not sure whether I have missed the mark, or Joseph Lease has missed the mark. It is evident that Lease is saying something, but he is not saying enough (as in "Broken World"). It is evident that Lease is writing in a form that is a departure from traditional poetic forms, but it is not enough of a departure (as in "Prayer, Broken Off"). We, the readers, can see on the horizon the potential of Lease's poetry, and seeing that potential we feel disappointed that Lease has ...more
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Lease’s “pieces of mirror sweep the word” and allow the reader to reflect on their situation as a self in American, personal and ancestral space.

Broken World is an astonishing book whose magic unfolds with each re-turning of the page. It is an inexhaustible energy source to savor and return to for hope and inspiration when faced by the fixed nature of America’s paved over interior and exterior landscapes. Lease grasps for other voices to chant and pray with the full potential of words and thoug
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary book--lyrical, sprawling and energetic. Lease is in full command of his voice, and he's really doing something new and exciting with Broken World.
Both heartbroken and proud, Broken World is, in part, a journey through the hazy periphery of American identity. Busted systems and spiritual tangles abound, but the interior path of discovery is tough, resilient and not at all cynical or patronizing. Creeley and Williams are good launching points, but Lease's toolbox is overflowing an
Mark Taylor
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2007
I'm not a big poetry person -- much of it is usually a little too esoteric for me, with references to obscure Greek myths and Scandinavian heroes or, worse yet, Biblical allusions, which always just make me feel illiterate or evil -- with the Biblical stuff at least.

This book is down to earth. It's about real life, with real world phrases that can melt your heart or burn your brain. It's a little sad, though, conjuring the feeling of a desolate winter, wind howling over a gray landscape, somepla
John Isles
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
Broken World is one of the best books of poetry I have read in many years. A good many books these days are impressive in a technical sense but feel empty; Joseph Lease's book is technically brilliant, but it is also powerful stuff that speaks from the broken heart of our culture; it is smart--even hip--but it does the good, old fashioned work of emboldening the soul in a way that didn't seem possible before. Read it! ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly gorgeous, succinct, Joseph Lease's poems in Broken World are as beautiful as they are interested in beauty, and they are as reflective, critical, and revelatory of our times as they are equally hopeful of them. Joseph Lease is undoubtedly one of the most important poets of his generation.

Patrick Duggan
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
(For the purposes of full disclosure, I have to admit this is a somewhat biased review, as Joseph Lease is a friend, and I myself had a hand in the pre-press copyediting. That being said--)

Broken World begins in a low tone, an easing of whispered language, reminiscent of James Schuyler or Robert Creeley (himself somewhat of a mentor to Lease.) That ease soon fades as we move into the title poem, a eulogy for Lease's friend James Assatly, who died of AIDS at a young age shortly after completing a
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Lease's "Broken World" expresses the horror of those of us who have chosen to look America in the face: throughout "Broken World," the collective "we" would shame America for her reliance on economic systems that destroy people's lives, or her faith in a progress that erases all which has come before it, etc.; however, for me, poems that only shame lose their desirability: instead, Lease's poems refuse to not hope, they beg and pray for saving. The paradox for the contemporary artist in today's ...more
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets, everyone
Shelves: poetry
This is one of the most amazing books of poetry I've read in ages. Inspiring, beautiful, and angry — always ready to take language where it needs to go in order to rend the commonplace into something new. "Broken World (for James Assatly)" holds a lyrical sadness that is so crystalline and pure that it's amazing that it can hold itself together despite the force of rage that shoots through it:

"Arrows on water;

You are with me —
rain on snow —

and I shatter
everyone who

hates you."

The crux of this b
Joshua moses
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes poetry or wants to like poetry
Shelves: poetry
Over the past year or so I have read two books of contemporary poetry that strike me as indispensable: Joseph Lease's "Broken World" and Alice Notley's "In the Pines". I mention them together because they seem to be engaged in somewhat similar projects--expansive political poetics incorporating the lyric, popular culture, critiques of capitalism, domination and authoritarianism in its multiple forms. Yet maintaining a sense of tragic humor, giving them a buoyant quality, saving them from the did ...more
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a fine and beautiful collection of poetry. Lease has a keen ear, a better eye. I'm challenged as a reader into thinking about language and line, yes, but also importantly about how the world is and could be. It's a quality too many poets whose work I think about don't think about enough. It's part of a 5+ feeling I have (five stars feels inadequate). In all, I feel fortunate to have this book in my library and in the world. ...more
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
There's a beautiful anger in Lease's poems, which provide a kind of elegy for a fallen America. The poems are lyrical, yet tough-minded; emotional, but clear-eyed. The volume is an exhilarating read, and Lease, in the end, proves a master of the long poem. It's good to see (and hear) poetry with such a political edge. ...more
David Kaufmann
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There are parts of this book I wish I had written. Covetousness might be the highest form of praise:

If I cried out,
Who among the angelic orders would
Slap my face, who would steal my
Lunch money, knock me
Down—sailboats moored
In harbor, trees on the long
Breakwater, orange shimmer
Of late July evening—I can’t stop
Wanting the voice that will come—
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is a kind of irony I can get behind -- a multiplicity of meanings, a complexity of utterance, a complicity, a critique. I prefer the second half, all poems called "Free Again."
"We are ourselves because this is the world's first morning, and we are ourselves because it is not, and we are also not ourselves."
Joe Amato
Affective, spiritually-driven, conceptually-charged writing that probes the fractures and continuities linking exteriors to interiors, public worlds to private lives, and asks us to reimagine the tone and tenor of our responses and responsibilities.
William Moore
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Joseph Lease is one of the best writers in the US today. Broken World is a gorgeous, lyrical, socially conscious, important book for our times.
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lease's book: shattered and shattering, as Delaunay kept reiterating at the beginning of the last century, like the fruit-dish of Cezanne. ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This Bay Area poet has created a form of the long poem that is poetry, performance, and political commentary that maintians sweep and lyric.
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
At a time when a lot of poets are into an aesthetic that's too cool for politics, Lease is a responsible reminder of the true duties of what it means to be an artist-citizen. ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Certainly one of the best new poetry collections I've read in quite some time. Lease's voice is assured, original and breathtakingly poignant. Highly recommended. ...more
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"When we're gone, our names will mean green body. When we're gone, our names will mean green thought."
Why are his poems unlike anyone else's poems?
Why are they happily killing me?
Monica Drake
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to hear this author read in an small, upstairs space in a corner of Chicago. I bought the book immediately. It's smart, interesting, arresting. ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok

I will not be looking for more by Joseph Lease.

Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Broken World is stunning and unforgettable.
It might be a Broken World, but the heart of our healing is found in these pages.
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In Lease's article "progressive lit," while looking for possibilities for the lyric "I," he points the the poetry of Amiri Baraka. Baraka, in Lease's view, is a poet whose "I" contains multiple voices, whose "I" reaches toward the societal "we," opening the space for meaningful political poetry.

If Lease's article shows him championing the possibilities of the lyric "I" through a critical mode, then Broken World shows his ongoing demonstration of everything that is possible for the lyric "I" to
Aug 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Definitely lives up to the title.

In live readings, Joseph Lease's Broken World comes across as Walt Whitman's voice echoing from his grave to comment on the current US condition. In the text, it's that accompanied with a youthful, childlike second voice reminiscing on lost America as reconciliation becomes the central theme.

Must read through this again to see what else holds together Lease's beautifully fragmented language.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
And the hype machine rolls along...
Michael Bérubé
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Remarkably inventive and evocative work from Joseph Lease, one of the finest poets writing today.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
a book not to be missed, surprising and with infinite purity and depth
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Joseph Lease's critically acclaimed books of poetry include Testify (Coffee House Press, 2011; Finalist, NCIBA Poetry Book of the Year Award), Broken World (Coffee House Press, 2007), and Human Rights (Talisman House, second edition forthcoming). Lease’s poems “’Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” and "Send My Roots Rain" have been selected for Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology. "'Brok ...more

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