Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
For over fifty years, Michael Heller has been building one of the most impressive bodies of work in contemporary American poetry. A poet who digs in and thinks hard, a poet who, in the tradition of George Oppen, makes the abstract concrete and the concrete abstract, Heller is a writer who returns again and again to his major themes, the better to rethink them anew. Those themes include the political and natural worlds and the reponsibility and the freedom of the poet, and Heller often explores them through encounters with key figures in literature and art, such as the painter Max Beckmann and Walter Benjamin. A Jewish poet, a Buddhist poet, a profoundly reflective poet, a deeply sensual poet, Michael Heller is simply one of the best poets writing today.
This new selection of his work, the first in many years, provides a perfect vantage from which to contemplate his achievement.
In a poetic generation that has frequently settled for small answers, Heller’s work insists upon the largest questions.
"To conceive otherwise," says Michael Heller, is the poet’s essential task. No matter if the poem is brief or extended, the line long or short, the setting Manhattan or the Colorado Rockies, a lost Bialystok or an imagined Tibet – what arises from the page is an action of mind, an asking, questing trajectory, tracked with uncanny surety by movement of the poetic line. This is no language-locked adventure, but an impassioned, ethical listening to the mind–and the world–at work in words.
Tone perfect poems – the tone, the scale, note by note, interval by interval – attack on the "gods of ennui and loneliness."