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Beschreibung des Verlags
A thrilling new collection from one of the most original poets of his generation
"His work is a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy with a jazzy backbeat." That praise appeared in the pages of The New York Times in 2005, but it applies no less to August Kleinzahler's newest collection.
Kleinzahler's poetry is, as ever, concerned with permeability: Voices, places, the real and the dreamed, the present and the past, all mingle together in verses that always ring true. Whether the poem is three lines long or spans several pages; whether the voice embodied is that of "an adult male of late middle age, // about to weep among the avocados and citrus fruits / in a vast, overlit room next to a bosomy Cuban grandma" as in "Whitney Houston," or that of the title character in "Hootie Bill Do Polonius," who is bidding "adios compadre // To a most galuptious scene Kid"—Kleinzahler finds the throbbing human heart at the core of experience.
This is a poet searching for—and finding—a cadence to suit life as it's lived today. Kleinzahler's verses are, as noted in the judges' citation for the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize (which he won for his collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep), "ferociously on the move, between locations, between forms, between registers." The Hotel Oneira finds Kleinzahler at his shape-shifting, acrobatic best, unearthing the "moments of grace" buried under the detritus of our hectic, modern lives.
Kleinzahler's first since his new-and-selected Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (2008) finds the peripatetic, polymathic, and sometimes dyspeptic poet in terrific form. He is known for his poems about places, and his native North Jersey shows up again here along with rail trips and midair realizations, the snowy battlefields of 19th-century Russia, a totally empty American town whose clouds look like "Outsize JumboTron screens," a Denny's ("Do you suppose, in the beginning, there was an actual Denny?"), and "Hollyhocks in the Fog" in his adoptive home of San Francisco "red purple apricot/ solitary as widows or disgraced metaphysicians." Stranger and just as compelling as these locales are new installments of Kleinzahler's continuing series "A History of Western Music," including onomatopoetic verse about bebop ("YAHTZEE YAHTZEE SWEET DEW-DROPSIE") and a backhanded tribute to the songsmith who crafted hits for "Celine Dion, Cher, Michael Bolton, Faith Hill" (the poet's second career as a jazz critic comes in handy here). Like the clouds and the travelers in his own poems, Kleinzahler's temperament comes and goes some will find it delightfully grown up, others unfortunately will find it bitter; his moments of tenderness, toward his own jaded self and toward strangers, come as relief. What stays, and what ought to impress any reader, are the range and the command that Kleinzahler has over so many flavors and kinds of American English.