Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour, and sharing the spirit of Tomas Transtromer’s Baltics and Yehuda Amichai’s Time, Republic Café is a meditation on love during a time of violence, and a tally of what appears and disappears in every moment. Mindful of epigenetic experience as our bodies become living vessels for history’s tragedies, David Biespiel praises not only the essentialness of our human memory, but also the sanctity of our flawed, human forgetting.
A single sequence, arranged in fifty-four numbered sections, Republic Café details the experience of lovers in Portland, Oregon, on the eve and days following September 11, 2001. To touch a loved one’s bare skin, even in the midst of great tragedy, is simultaneously an act of remembering and forgetting. This is a tale of love and darkness, a magical portrait of the writer as a moral and imaginative participant in the political life of his nation.
"Biespiel’s finest book of poems to date. Republic Café builds on his strengths as a lyric poet with a social conscience, a latter-day Romantic in a skeptical time. Republic Café is both personal and political, much in the manner of its evident forebear, Walt Whitman. This is a postmodernist’s Romanticism." David Baker, author of Swift: New and Selected Poems
"David Biespiel reinvents poetry in Republic Café by mating a love poem with a historical narrative. A moment in time, a self within it — together the size of a pinprick — are revealed here to be as infinite as the universe. Nothing escapes the net this poet casts out with his powerful form and original vision. Transcendent, mysterious, and as supernatural as it is completely human, this is poetry that transforms the reader." Laura Kashischke, author of Where Now: New and Selected Poems
"I was unprepared for the true enormity of the scope of this remarkable, deeply moving, and consistently compelling new book. With Biespiel's usual elegance and formal grace, Republic Café strikes me as being both expansive and deeply forgiving of human acts, however horrible." David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour: New and Selected Poems
About the Author
David Biespiel is a poet, critic, memoirist, and contributing to writer to American Poetry Review, New Republic, the New York Times, Poetry, Politico, The Rumpus, and Slate. He is poet-in-residence at Oregon State University, faculty member in the Rainier Writers Workshop, and president of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters. He has received NEA and Lannan fellowships and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award. His most recent book is The Education of a Young Poet. He has previously published three books in the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series: Wild Civility, The Book of Men and Women, and Charming Gardeners.