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The poems in The Eye Like a Strange Balloon find their seed in paintings, film, video, photographs, and collage, and the end results are something more than a sum of their parts. Beginning with a painting done in 2003, the poems move backwards in time to 1 BC, where an architectural fragment is painted on an architectural fragment, highlighting visual art’s strange relationship between the image and the thing itself. The total effect is exhilarating a wholly original, personal take on art history coupled with Bang’s sly and elegant commentary on poetry’s enduring subjects: Love, Death, Time and Desire. The recipient of numerous prizes and awards, Bang stands at the front of American poetry with this new work, asking more of the English language, and enticing and challenging the reader.
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"Art/ is the depth of whatever has deepened/ an abbreviate existence," writes Bang in this fourth collection, comprising ekphrastic poems that search relentlessly for the meaning of—and the reason for—art in our contemporary world. The book is without sections; instead it operates by proposing its subjects in a somewhat overly direct and thematically oriented first poem titled, "Rock and Roll is Dead, The Novel is Dead. God is Dead, Painting is Dead," which ponders the place of art in the postmodern age. The book proceeds through a series of 52 poems to try to find that place—finding a meager, not entirely satisfying answer in art's resistance to the depredations of time. Each draws upon a different work of art, from sources as various as Willem de Kooning, Cindy Sherman, Picasso and David Lynch. Unlike classical ekphrasis, however, Bang does not attempt to directly describe the work of art, but instead uses the works as springboards for her signature quirky pathos and alliterative staccato: "We are posing. We are poised./ This is where we live. We are ever/ but only when ever is all that there is." The collection concludes in a poem drawn from an original artwork by Bang herself. "Here darling, take this," she writes, "and Time gives the mouth a morsel."
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Bang is an adventuresome and dynamic poet, and consequently each of her collections is distinctive and animated. Her fourth is especially commanding in its metaphysical puzzles, tart irony, antic yet adamantly channeled energy, and devil-may-care poise. The eye is a reigning image and metaphor, Alice in Wonderland a companion and muse, and the workings of the brain, the "alchemy of mind," to use Diane Ackerman's phrase, a subject of wry analysis. "Experience returns as memory," the poet tells us, but personal occurrences do not occupy Bang; instead, she performs ekphrasis, the writing of an intense pictorial description of an object, usually a work of art. And Bang has chosen her inspirations well, riffing with supple imagination and spiky wit on paintings by such provocative artists as Paula Rego, Sigmar Polke, Max Ernst, and Redon Odilon, the source of the collection's title. Although these works are the keys to Bang's sharply intelligent and gorgeously textured poems, her fresh, exploratory, and superbly crafted work takes off on its own blazing trajectories, creating its own mental pictures. Donna Seaman
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Book Description KLO80, 2004. Paperback. Condition: BRAND NEW. Seller Inventory # 0802141579_abe_bn
Book Description Grove Press, 2004. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0802141579
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Book Description Grove Pr, 2004. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. 97 pages. 8.25x5.50x0.50 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # zk0802141579
Book Description Condition: New. New. Looks like an interesting title!. Seller Inventory # M-0802141579
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