Michael McFee, in his new book, The Smallest Talk, squeezes the conventions of poetry-- image, rhythm, language and meaning-- into the smallest possible package. These monostiches, as one-line poems are often called, are extraordinary feats of wit, as much kin to prose poems as to a comedian's smartest lines. If comedians zing, then McFee zings darkly, with the verbal charge and resonance of longer poems. The Smallest Talk is an examination of poetic line in its barest terms, a celebration of compactness. Yet, there is a hint of narrative across these one-line poems, the implication that even as a line stands alone, it consistently speaks to its surroundings. "William Matthews' chapbook, the long out-of-print An Old Oar in the Water, lit me up, because before I read it, I don't know that I'd ever even thought about one-line poems," says McFee. "The challenge became to take all of the virtues that you usually develop over ten, or thirty, or five hundred, lines and squeeze it down to the smallest possible talk that still has the evocativeness and the memorability that good poems have." "Then I started poking around on my own and reading other one-liners, monostiches as they are called, which have a very ancient tradition. Most of them felt not so much unfinished as unbegun-- they were like a line that needed to be surrounded by a dozen other lines. The trick became not to do that-- to have a self-sufficient verbal unit that's intriguing enough to want to read again and again and again."
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Michael McFee was born in Asheville, North Carolina. The author of ten books of poetry and essays, he currently lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Review:
Part punch line and part epigram, Michael McFee's one-liners are knife jabs of insight and wit. Delightful and deep-felt, they are, in every sense of the word, quick--alert, agile, sharp and, most importantly, alive. --Michael Chitwood
Novel as it may seem, the one-line poem has long been part of our literature: Whitman planted two in Leaves of Grass. Of the form s recent practitioners, the best include A. R. Ammons, Jonathan Williams, Fred Chappell, William Matthews, and now Michael McFee. McFee s little poems prove outrageously funny, arrestingly sad, wise, even sublime. Small talk is forgettable; The Smallest Talk is anything but. --Robert West
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Book Description Bull City Press, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111424317975