Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything: Poems (Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets)

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9780807119938: Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything: Poems (Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets)

In selecting this dazzling first collection of poems as winner of the 1994 Walt Whitman Award, Robert Pinsky praised Jan Richman for the "rowdy, restless intelligence" of her work. Indeed, all of the poems in Because the Brain Can Be Talked Into Anything are the result of a compulsive, unflinching inquisitiveness - a desire to make some sense of modern life by scrutinizing the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in our world. Ultimately, among the surprising turns of language, the hard edges and twisted aphorisms of an outspoken narrator, the sense of personal history re-emerges as haunting and essential. The book offers no formula for self-knowledge; it winnows and rummages and, finally, finds truth in irony. This satiric/sincere dualism comes brilliantly through in "Why I'm the Boss." As in all Richman's poems, the wise-cracking, urban-hip tone gives way to an extremely personal world view, and the raw emotional underpinnings are finally revealed. These poems announce a fresh and powerful new voice.

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Review:

San Francisco poet Jan Richman won the 1994 Walt Whitman Award for this wry, quirky, hard-hitting collection of poems. Unflinchingly, she addresses modern life's truths and ironies with what Robert Pinsky describes as a "rowdy, restless intelligence." The book's first poem, "Hells," begins: "Everyone has gone through hell, that's/what I love about the world. Even dentists, /and the couple in the convertible thrilling/Central Park West, winter lights landing/like spacecraft on their hair." The book is divided into two sections: "Reasons," which includes reflections on childhood, family snarls, and the death of her mother; and "Excuses," which confronts the freedoms and fears of adulthood. Richman's often searing, always stirring poems explore love and sex, stretch the boundaries between people, and delve into the notions of grace, pain, and truth in a powerful, personal voice.

About the Author:

Jan Richman 's poems have appeared in The Nation, Ploughshares, the Bloomsbury Review, and many other journals. She has received the Felix Pollack Poetry Prize, a Discovery/The Nation Award, and the Celia B. Wagner Award. She lives in San Francisco.

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Richman, Jan
Published by Louisiana State Univ Pr, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A. (1995)
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