Synopses & Reviews
Who would guess that Godzilla, the Invisible Man, Elvis, Donald Duck, Ted Williams, and the Three Stooges might have something to say about the love and loss that shape the way we see the world? And yet these are the pop-culture coordinates that chart the emotional life brilliantly mapped out in Paul Guests second book of poems. Winner of the Prairie Schooner Prize in Poetry, this collection plumbs the depths of nature and culture (how, for instance, “gar” in Old English means “spear,” and an octopus can lose a limb during mating) to give form to the darkness and the light that make us human. In poetry whose tone is largely one of lament tempered by a wry and intelligent humor, Paul Guest does what a poet does best: he gives us the moments of his life refashioned to reflect the larger arc and meaning of our own—of life, that is, writ large.
“How can there be radiance and plentitude in the dark, diminished world? What can a child's broken neck make of the future? Paul Guest's poems are answers to these questions. They are incandescent, terrifying, scalding, and unafraid to be lovely. In Guest's poems ardor marries grief. Blood beats a mighty river. The idiotic weds the sublime. Romance meets its nullifying twin. They have the force of wonder. They wound. Notes For My Body Double accrues a music that channels Muscle Shoals and Memphis—a blues of hunger, angels, secrets and fire.”—Bruce Smith, author of Songs for Two Voices Bruce Smith
“Paul Guest has managed to write, simultaneously, to and of himself, in poems that balance the narrative and lyrical impulses with uncommon grace.”—Bob Hicok, author of This Clumsy Living Bob Hicok
“Notes for My Body Double has the utmost integrity: all its parts interconnect and clearly relate to an overarching theme. The poet underscores this by arranging the poems in a continuous rush forcing the reader into the skin of the one whose future has altered in an instant. Whatever redemption the speaker experiences arrives primarily through love of language and imagination (‘In praise of the fat moon, in praise of my howl). This relentless collection is not easy to read, but its rewards are manifold.”—Carole Simmons Oles, author of Waking Stone: Inventions on the Life of Harriet Hosmer Carole Simmons Oles
About the Author
Paul Guest is the author of The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, winner of the 2002 New Issues Poetry Prize, and of the chapbook Exit Interview. Coeditor of Mot Juste, Guest has taught poetry and writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Alabama.