Synopses & Reviews
"'The 40 poems in this strong, Juniper Prize winning debut are obsessed with, and at the same time refuse to acknowledge, dislocation from history, literature, love, place, yearning and speech itself with a barrage of verbal explosives. Reimagining such figures as Pol Pot, Mayakovsky, Garca Mrquez and Joseph Cornell, and traveling between places as far-flung as Long Island, Vietnam and West Des Moines, Dumanis, coeditor of the controversial poetry anthology Legitimate Dangers, restlessly submerges the reader in his perceptions. He buries the soon-to-be-buried in the tumbling inventory of 'Today, on the Obituary Channel' ('The self-proclaimed Sultan of Cockfighting / Heir to the throne of Qatar/ Later an interview with his betrothed/ Now stay tuned for a tour of the Providence morgue'). The book is also lush with political conflict and eros: 'Swore I knew nothing of/ the Schlieffen Plan, the Bay of Pigs... as she turned to me and ran/ her satin hands over my eyelids, toward my lips./ Knowing the war would never end, we kissed,' In rare moments, sonic tics and play overshadow the matter of the poems, but mostly Dumanis overwhelms with intelligence and emotion. He is certainly a poet to watch.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
The speaker of the simultaneously funny and devastating poems in this remarkable first collection comes from a country that, like the Soviet Union, no longer exists, a place he treats with a mixture of nostalgia, disdain, and bewilderment as he strives to achieve a sense of order in his current disordered environment, a post-apocalyptic landscape with striking similarities to our own. He takes the reader through haunting and disjunctive childhood memories, on visits to Azerbaijan and West Des Moines, through the ravages of physical and spiritual illness, into and out of wars and ill-fated romantic escapades, as he carefully pieces together a complex narrative of self. This is a book of location and dislocation, intent and inaction, struggle and failure, restraint and mania, love and anger, savagery and healing, grief and merriment, elegy and ode. Technically, the poems--often litanies--are marked by syntactical variation, recurring imagery, paradoxical statement, cultural idioms, shifts between high and low diction, a carnivalesque sense of humor, and an elliptical approach to exposition. The speaker also takes on the identities of various personae in the book, including Joseph Cornell, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Pol Pot, a vaudevillian, a movie extra, minor dictators, vagrants, ambigendered lovers, and a lighthouse keeper on an uninhabited island. from "The Death of Elegy" Reluctant, I must onward, dearest wantword, fairest ragebird: I can no longer in the throatscratched marshland, nor do I find myself capable in the Cathedral of Learning, or any(for that matter)where in Pittsburgh. Have lugged too many bodies through its freightyards in my translucent slip. In my gauche veil, I thought I'dsteel myself against despair, did not accomplish. The moon is black tonight, as if there is none. The moon tonight is either black, or stolen, and I do not possess the wherewithal to up-and-down, in search for it, on the funiculars. What I've become. An overcoat with hands, hands I would fail to feel if it were colder. Ý...¨