"So what if I left language by the pier. Metaphor’s a raft," declares Andrew DuBois as he leads readers through a fractured past and present — from "slummy memories of streets" to a "a charnelhouse (?) of possible clowns" — defamiliarizing, critiquing, and satirizing a wide range of conversational forms in the style of Wallace Stevens and Michael Palmer.
Yet, as "lives at time degenerate into victory competitions," and the poet alternates between searching for an escape from the mundane and accepting that "merely being there together is a dull catastrophe," we recognize that a formally wry, almost flippant, voice has become caught in language’s web. The surfaces of the poems begin to feel like thin ice, a brittle coating over which we skate for as long as it lasts. Danger lurks here: the poet must play the puppet, not the puppeteer and we must surrender, body and soul, into language as element.
Andrew DuBois is the author of three previous books, including Ashbery’s Forms of Attention and Start to Figure: Fugitive Essays, Selected Reviews, a collection that includes reviews of over 200 contemporary poets. He also co-edited The Anthology of Rap, named a Top Ten Book of the year by New York Magazine and The Village Voice. He is a member of the University of Toronto’s English department and divides his time between Toronto and Carbonear, Newfoundland.
"In this exciting debut, Andrew DuBois ignores the hand-wringing about irony in North American poetry, putting it to wild use as a resource for testing language’s capacities in the current of relentless play. The brilliant mind behind these flexible, world-bearing tableau-poems keeps seeking, equally unafraid of erudition and humor, on the trail of sound. When the dust settles, we are left with a living music. "
— Christian Campbell
"Andrew DuBois’s writing is one magnificent twist of perception and language after another — strikingly clear, full of ideas, and open to all kinds of possibilities. These poems will move you like a raft from where you are all the way to the end-line of the sublime, a powerful and joyful reminder that the space between you and the sublime is alive. "
— Karina Vernon
"What I marvel at most in the work of Andrew DuBois is how his poems can be at once so raw and so crafted, so challenging and yet so welcoming, immersed in the muck while taking miraculous flights. This is poetry’s answer to Schrödinger’s cat: the poem and its moment both flourishing and ruined, an urn both cracked and immaculate. "
— Daniel Scott Tysdal
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