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Other titles in the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets series:
Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything: Poemsby Jan Richman
This is a book that will convert nonreaders of poetry into readers of poetry. Richman's wry and boasting voice interrogates the conventions and assumptions of the modern world, trying to make sense of the self in the midst of Nutrasweet and Naugahyde. She jumps nimbly from literary allusion (Hamlet and Horatio) to pop culture (Pop Tarts and Wile E. Coyote), but is firmly planted in the here and now: "I was conceived in the blue light/ of Johnny Carson's personality." Next to the voice in these poems is her searing wit. In one poem she has the devil's advocate threatening the devil and in another she tells us she's the boss "Because I alone can perfectly forge my signature." Topped with the raw eroticism of "Don't Move" and "I Still Dream of the Taste of You" and the revisionist telling of a date gone awry in "The Physics of Dating," this is a collection that defies elitist conceptions of poetry.
Synopses & Reviews
In selecting this dazzling first collection of poems as winner of the 1994 Walt Whitman Award, Robert Pinsky praised Jan Richman for the "rowdy, restless intelligence" of her work. Indeed, all of the poems in Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything are the result of a compulsive, unflinching inquisitiveness - a desire to make some sense of modern life by scrutinizing the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in our world. Ultimately, among the surprising turns of language, the hard edges and twisted aphorisms of an outspoken narrator, the sense of personal history re-emerges as haunting and essential. The book offers no formula for self-knowledge; it winnows and rummages and, finally, finds truth in irony. This satiric/sincere dualism comes brilliantly through in "Why I'm the Boss". As in all Richman's poems, the wise-cracking, urban-hip tone gives way to an extremely personal world view, and the raw emotional underpinnings are finally revealed. These poems announce a fresh and powerful new voice.
Book News Annotation:
Winner of the 1994 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. Robert Pinsky was the judge of the 1994 competition. Paper edition (unseen), $8.95.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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