James Tate Worshipful Company of Fletchers

ISBN 13: 9780880014311

Worshipful Company of Fletchers

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9780880014311: Worshipful Company of Fletchers
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Masterfully drawing on a variety of voices and characters, James Tate joyfully offers his first book since winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his "Selected Poems."

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Review:

Winner of the National Book Award in 1994, The Worshipful Company of Fletchers is fresh and startling. Like his doppelgangers Jeff Koons in sculpture and Stephen Malkmus in rock music, Tate is a self-consciously cool comedian of contrivances, devising bizarre situations and dressing them in a camouflage of the familiar world. To read Tate is to hear as music the ongoing negotiations between language and reality. In this book his main amusement is a game of categories, culminating in "How the Pope Is Chosen":

After a poodle dies
All the cardinals flock to the nearest 7-eleven.
They drink slurpies until one of them throws up
And then he's the new pope.
With a devil's aplomb, Tate inverts cliches to infiltrate the vocabularies of power in such mischievous poems as "A Manual of Enlargement," "Little Poems with Argyle Socks," and "What the City Was Like." The latter seems to caricature the late William Stafford, with its description of a salt-mining operation behind City Hall. For quality control, "someone / named Mildred" tasted each grain "until she became a stenographer / and moved away," thus devastating the community because "no one could read / her diacritical remarks." In the poetry of James Tate--or that of John Ashbery, Mark Levine, or Russell Edson, all of whom Tate superficially resembles--one looks for clues to the poet's mission. Perhaps a few hints come in the final poem, "Happy as the Day Is Long," in which the speaker feels sympathetic toward the Russians who created a language to communicate with aliens "but never get a postcard back." If it were uncovered that Tate was an inhabitant of another world instead of a middle-aged man from Kansas City, few of those rewarded by The Worshipful Company of Fletchers would be surprised. --Edward Skoog

About the Author:

James Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1943. He is the author of seventeen books of poetry, including Worshipful Company of Fletchers, which won the National Book Award in 1994; Selected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award in 1991; and The Lost Pilot, which was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has also published a novel and a collection of short stories, as well as edited The 1997 Best American Poetry Anthology. His honors include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Tanning Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

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9780880013802: Worshipful Company Of Fletchers

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ISBN 10:  088001380X ISBN 13:  9780880013802
Publisher: Ecco Press, 1994
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