Poetry Campbell McGrath Pax Atomica: Poems

ISBN 13: 9780060745646

Pax Atomica: Poems

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9780060745646: Pax Atomica: Poems

A collection of eloquent,
culturally engaged poems
that amount to Campbell
McGrath's best book yet.

"America's epic is the odyssey of appetite," Campbell McGrath declares, and these poems track those defining hungers across a social landscape by turns "grave, risible, amazing, banal," cataloging the "?vortex of images in a ruined theater the culture comes to resemble," from Rocky and Bullwinkle to "Blue Angels rampant on a field of static, / anthem and flag descending to darkness." In terza rima meditations, rock-and-roll elegies, and abecedarian lyrics, Pax Atomica documents the tangled romance between self and society ("in which / the melody's ampersand ensnares us") in ways both new and familiar to readers of McGrath's five previous volumes.

A continuation as well as a departure for one of America's most highly honored poets, this is poetry of formal eloquence and rhetorical power, of vision and engagement. Pax Atomica descends into the maelstrom of American culture and emerges singing.

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About the Author:

Campbell McGrath is the author of nine previous books, eight of them available from Ecco Press. He has received numerous prestigious awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been published in the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and Ploughshares, among other prominent publications, and his poetry is represented in dozens of anthologies. He teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University, and lives with his family in Miami Beach.

From Publishers Weekly:

Since his much-praised Spring Comes to Chicago (1996), McGrath's readers have known what to expect: his long lines and catalogues mingle American treasures and American detritus, social critiques and topical jokes, to give his odes and verse-essays a sometimes lighthearted, consciously Whitmanesque flair. McGrath won a MacArthur grant on the strength of that style (continued in 2002's Florida Poems), and this sixth book continues in the same vein: the opening poem considers "the gigawatt voice/ of the culture—popular culture, mass culture, our culture—kaboom!" McGrath indeed tries to acknowledge, even to praise, as much of that culture as he can—he offers a "song of the RV and the barbed-wire school bus farm," "a paradoxical, Froot Loopian/ awakening to the mechanisms of the marketplace," even an epigram on fast food ("the sandwiches at Subway/ suck"). Many poems focus on McGrath's post-Baby Boom upbringing, and on his generation's popular (and obscure) songs; a final segment travels to Ireland and Spain. His signature form, the abecedarian catalogue (in which line one starts with A, line two with B, and so on) rewards expansion rather than compression and reconsideration, and thus can feel more sprawlingly horizontal than deep. And if this volume represents little advance, it certainly confirms McGrath's success in his ambitious, and accessible, mode.
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