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Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected

Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected Cover

ISBN13: 9780374265830
ISBN10: 0374265836
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahlers career, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and inspiration, and in these pages the poet also finds “This sanctified ground / Here, yes, here / The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.”

August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City in 1949. He is the author of ten books of poems and a memoir, Cutty, One Rock. His most recent book of poetry, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, was awarded the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize. He lives in San Francisco.
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A Northern California Book Award Finalist

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahlers career, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems.  Within this collection, Kleinzahler visits different voice registers, experiments with form and length, and confirms his writing among the most inventive of his time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and inspiration, and in these pages the poet also finds “This sanctified ground / Here, yes, here / The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.”

"Many poets try to sound tough, or masculine, or self-conscious about manhood, and fail miserably: what qualities let Kleinzahler succeed? His eye, and his ear—he is, first and last, a craftsman, a maker of lines—but also his range of tones, and his self-restraint: he never says more than he should, rarely repeats himself and keeps his focus not on the man who speaks the poems (and whose personality comes across anyway) but on what that man sees and on what he can hear."—Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review
"Many poets try to sound tough, or masculine, or self-conscious about manhood, and fail miserably: what qualities let Kleinzahler succeed? His eye, and his ear—he is, first and last, a craftsman, a maker of lines—but also his range of tones, and his self-restraint: he never says more than he should, rarely repeats himself and keeps his focus not on the man who speaks the poems (and whose personality comes across anyway) but on what that man sees and on what he can hear."—Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review

Sleeping It Off in Rapid City features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castles pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahlers poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; youll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease. Mr. Kleinzahler is an American eccentric, a hard man to pin down. Born in New Jersey, he writes poems that have a pushy exuberance and an expert recall of that states tougher schoolyards—of bullies with names like Stinky Phil and of 'fire trucks and galoshes, / the taste of pencils and Louis Boccas ear.' And he writes with elegiac insight about lifes losers, the people he calls 'strange rangers,' the addicted, insane or destitute . . . Mr. Kleinzahler, who has lived for several decades in San Francisco, writes most often in a strongly accented free verse that is among the most articulate and alive sounds American poetry is currently making. He plays effortlessly with forms, voices, registers. And his range of cultural reference—from Catullus to Custer, from Lorca to Eric Dolphy—is wide and artfully deployed. Rarely does high, learned poetic art sound this casual. As 'Sleeping It Off in Rapid City' demonstrates, you can find in Mr. Kleinzahlers verse echoes of poets as disparate as Frank OHara (the appraising eye and metropolitan ease), Jim Harrison (the life-affirming appetites), Tony Hoagland (the deft grasp of high culture and low) and Charles Simic (a certain satirical angularity, and attention paid to food and drink and their sorrows and delights). Its easy to troll through any of Mr. Kleinzahlers books and pick out fresh, alert observations. (Flipping almost at random through this one I find: 'Say, who among us does not care to be undressed?' and 'If butter cant cure what ails you, / no cure is there to be found.') But beneath their surface charms, the reverberating subjects of nearly all of Mr. Kleinzahlers poems, particularly his later ones, are brute human longing and loneliness.'—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Despite its title, there is very little sleeping in this gathering of new and previously published works. What binds these erudite poems is their restlessness. Planes fly overhead ('Red pulse the big jets lights / in descent'); the poet returns to his childhood home ('No one is left here who knows me anymore'); even food spoiling in the refrigerator ('Fetor of broken proteins') is notable for its implied metamorphosis. Kleinzahler moves easily between casual rowdiness and scholarly composure, often with a sense of humor; a series of poems under the title 'A History of Western Music' mock their own authority. He also employs simplicity and clarity when needed, as in 'Portrait of My Mother in January.' The need for connection is another kind of movement, with the sense of a human being as a country to be travelled to: 'Unvisited I do not live, I endure.'"The New Yorker

"In these sprawling, energetic poems, Kleinzahler takes for his subject the detritus of daily life in America—brand names, back highways, celebrities—and the derelict people who live it, which usually is the poet himself schlepping from town to town. Here he finds, with just a touch of comic irony, 'The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.'"—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Start out with Frank OHara (as Kleinzahler himself admits), add the Northumbrian music of Basil Bunting, a lust for women and the tough-guy ironies and rue of noir at its most genuine (his memoir is rather brilliantly titled Cutty, One Rock) and youve got one of the great living poets. Among other anti-pastoral things his work is full of, a la OHara, are movies (Ava Gardner tales are a particular fondness), music (he used to write a music column for the San Diego Reader) and art (one poem is called ‘On First Looking Into Joseph Cornells Diaries, a surely, post-modern swat at the Keats AND Cornell. The results can be equally strong as poetry and as penetrating musical commentary. In ‘A History of Western Music: Chapter 13 he writes about Theolonious Monk ‘on the stage of the Salle Pleyel in 1954, instructing his French rhythm section how to play his tune ‘Trinkle Tinkle by getting up to dance and show them ‘where the accents drop / where not / and those weird spaces in between. Which, to vast credit, is what so much of Kleinzahlers work does too.”—Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News

"Set firmly from the beginning in the Objectivist tradition, Kleinzahler's writing has assumed a density over time that approaches the philosophical meditations of Robert Duncan. But whereas Duncan wrote from the persona of Self, Kleinzahler focuses on a (sometimes imaginary) Other: 'He wasn't English, of course/ The great man/ But that need not concern us, not here/ Rather, how that famous open plan of his/ Would abhor these little, closed-off rooms' . . . Astonishingly, Kleinzahler is capable of a concrete view influenced by what is not present: 'There is a bureau and there is a wall/ and no one is beside you./ Beyond the curtains only silence/ broken now and again by a car or truck./ And if you are very still/ an occasional drip from the faucet/ Such are the room's acoustics./ It is difficult to place exactly where from.' Featuring both old and newer work, this is a masterly, breakthrough collection and an important purchase for all libraries."—Rochelle Ratner, Library Journal

"The witty, gritty poet and memoirist Kleinzahler has produced chiseled, sometimes curt and finely observed free verse for decades. Kleinzahler has lived in Montreal, San Francisco, Vancouver, Portugal and Berlin; his sketches of characters and places from at least four continents include affectionately cynical portraits of hoodlums, odes to the autumn failures of baseball teams and swiftly cinematic depictions of Tartar hordes in medieval Europe, 'ripping the ears off hussars.' Hackensack, N.J.; the foggy Bay Area with its foggier ex-hippies; and northern European lakes and mountains all receive their due in a poetry that aspires to the feel of bebop and the delight of travel writing, that never bores and rarely repeats itself. New poems add to, rather than swerve away from, Kleinzahler's strengths in close observation and all-over-the-map diction, from slang to technical terms. Overheard speech in 'Above Gower Street,' a poem about the loneliness of international travel, ranges from an answering machine's anodyne messages to an explicit sexual come-on; in 'Vancouver,' 'the neon mermaid over the fish place/ looks best that way, in the rain.' This ninth book of poems and first trade press new-and-selected should bring this master of free verse lines even more admirers."—Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahlers career, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and inspiration, and in these pages the poet also finds “This sanctified ground / Here, yes, here / The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.”

About the Author

August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City in 1949. He is the author of ten books of poems and a memoir, Cutty, One Rock. His most recent book of poetry, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, was awarded the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize. He won the Lannan Literary Award in 2008.  He lives in San Francisco.

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Mary W., July 5, 2008 (view all comments by Mary W.)
In addition to his magical way with words and images, I love the way Kleinzahler keeps the quotidian with him when he writes: it is everywhere in his poems, not crushing his work, but rather informing it. He brings popular culture and day-to-day events unexpectedly together with the larger issues that plague us and intrigue us, revealing all of it in a new way.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374265830
Subtitle:
Poems, New and Selected
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author:
Kleinzahler, August
Subject:
General Poetry
Subject:
General
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Single Author / American
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080401
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.27 x 5.57 x 0.7 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected
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Product details 256 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374265830 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

The first broad retrospective of August Kleinzahlers career, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City gathers poems from his major works along with a rich portion of new poems that visit different voice registers, experiment with form and length, and confirm Kleinzahler as among the most inventive and brilliant poets of our time. Travel—actual and imaginary—remains a passion and inspiration, and in these pages the poet also finds “This sanctified ground / Here, yes, here / The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.”

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