Albert Goldbarth "just may be the American poet of his generation for the ages", says Judith Kitchen in a recent feature on him in the Georgia Review. "Often humorous but always serious, Goldbarth combines erudite research, pop-culture fanaticism, and personal anecdote in ways that make his writings among the most stylistically recognizable in the ...
Albert Goldbarth "just may be the American poet of his generation for the ages", says Judith Kitchen in a recent feature on him in the Georgia Review. "Often humorous but always serious, Goldbarth combines erudite research, pop-culture fanaticism, and personal anecdote in ways that make his writings among the most stylistically recognizable in the literary world". This new volume, Saving Lives, both consolidates and extends his passions and their presentations. The poems range from a few tight, resonant lines to works of long storytelling drive, from sequences that encompass the most flexible of free verse to an homage to the sestina. Some center on familiar cultural icons (Rembrandt, Houdini, Barnum, the Hardy Boys), others on little-known fringe players in subculture's oddest unlit corners, and yet others on family histories. But always they examine an essential subject: the ways in which we try to "save lives" -- whether through a transplanted lung, the archeological remnant, the conserved book. As ever, Goldbarth dazzles, displaying an energetic mind eager to share his arcane learning, oddball musings, and observations of intimate moments, joys, and despairs. A zany wit and a generous sense of humanity reign equally. Saving Lives only enhances this writer's grand signature tradition.
First Ed thus; First Printing indicated. Fine in Wraps: binding square and secure; text clean. Virtually 'As New'. NOT a Remainder, Book-Club, or Ex-Library. 8vo. 128pp. University Press Paperback. Ever the imagination's paleontologist, Goldbarth (Beyond: Poems) continues to unearth the infinitely odd, amazing bits of historical fact and fiction that argue for irony and coincidence as primary laws of nature. Thick and sometimes unkempt with the excitement of telling ("the pulse in the body that wants more/ than its single human lifetime"), his poems teem like drops of pond water viewed under a microscope: movement everywhere, almost too much to assimilate, and yet "there are continuums/ connecting the most striking pairs of opposites." So multilayered and varied is the poet's apprehension of life that the ceaseless acquisition of knowledge only serves to deepen its mystery. No wonder Goldbarth's favorite subjects are alchemists, the likes of Houdini and Barnum ("a sterling example of willed bizarritude"), and the early astronomers, whose cosmic theories repeatedly overturned the basic assumptions of their times. Generously intelligent, Goldbarth's own "zestily done humbuggeries" remind us that reading is no less an act of discovery and creative preservation than writing.
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