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Posts Tagged ‘William Fuller

Attention Span 2011 | Keith Tuma

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Steven Zultanski | Cop Kisser | Book Thug | Toronto | 2010

“Workers of the world, come on already.” 32 brands of beer matched by 32 Zultanski personalities, Lenin a deck of identity cards, Mao with Zultanski’s mother: this is a collection of long tail poetry taking on the banality of information with insight and wit, its idioms absolutely contemporary, its prosody deadpan, its cover brighter than canary yellow. Rod Smith wouldn’t let me out of Bridge Street Books without it. He was right to insist.

Rae Armantrout | Money Shot | Wesleyan | 2011

“All we ask / is that our thinking / sustain momentum, / identify targets.” I don’t know a poet who thinks more in her poems, via analogy, juxtaposition, definition, and otherwise. Armantrout begins the first poem with a line from the Book of Revelation promising a new world, noting that new worlds are always with us—and also not with us—in “The spray / of all possible paths.” But thinking can’t stop with recognition or contemplation: “Define possible.” Several of the poems think about the collapse of the economy, e.g. “Money Shot” and “Soft Money,” where one notorious phrase from the pornoculture—“so hot”—deflates those who would eroticize social inequality.

Jeff Hilson | In The Assarts | Veer | 2010

A comic sonnet sequence and something of a clearing in the dark wood of recent experimental English poetry, no less serious or engaged for its light touch. The kitsch of England from crossbows to Kinks, Anne Boleyn to Jeremy Irons. “I am sick of the banks of England” in a mix of faux-archaic and contemporary registers where Wyatt meets Berrigan: “I was lost in doe a deer.” Stephen Rodefer gets a cameo, and there’s passing reference to In the American Tree and The Reality Street Book of Sonnets. One poem opens with what is probably a joke about a recent book by Jean-Luc Nancy. That one takes us back to the book’s first poem, where the reader is asked to “Give them thy finger in the Forêt de Nancy.”

William Fuller | Hallucination | Flood Editions | 2011

It’s not only poetry that almost successfully resists the intelligence—try banking: “Several times a day someone passes by the door holding a report.” That’s the first sentence of the book’s last poem, a prose poem called “The Circuit.” Maybe it’s best to indicate the texture and quality of these prose poems making for more than half of Fuller’s book by quoting first lines from a few others: “More numbness from less pain, I heard the preacher say. When does apprehension become extinction? Of what omitted act is it the fruit?” (“Flaming”). “It dreamt that it spoke as it dreamt and wrote down what it spoke in echoes of situations dreamt about which its mind wondered at” (“The Will”). “For the period of thirty lunar days after the receipt of appropriate notice [undefined], the parties [not specified] shall attempt in good faith to resolve whatever dispute has (evidently) arisen by employing the advanced measurement approach, which computes a given event’s penumbra as it tumbles into the lap of someone who studies it.” Seeing as if through fog events apprehended only after the fact constitutes most worlds; these poems map our life “in the dark” while admitting—not always as ominously as “The Circuit” does—the “imperceptible” as fact.

Frances Kruk | Down You Go / Négation de Bruit | Punch | 2011

A series of fragments after Danielle Collobert, two or three lines or clusters of lines per page, white space the silence between them and allowing for their little explosions —“I revolt / project.” “Swarms! We will bang / into the sun Blinded.” Bitterness distilled to an essence: “I ordered a hurricane & I am still / on this island I am still / on this island.” I had to look up “crkl,” which appears twice, and so courtesy of Wikipedia: “Crk-like protein is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CRKL gene…. CRKL has oncogenic potential.” I don’t know Collobert’s work well enough to suggest the most pertinent comparisons, having seen only two books translated by Norma Cole, but I do know that this is a powerful and defiant book—“We come to fuck the mutants / We go to mutant them / I am with the mutant / firing limbs.” One of the best young British poets is Polish-Canadian.

Mina Loy, ed. Sara Crangle | Stories and Essays of Mina Loy | Dalkey Archive | 2011

As Crangle notes in her introduction, this first book-length collection of Loy’s short stories, drama, and commentary is not a “definitive” or “critical” edition, but its apparatus includes a smart and readable introduction and 100 plus pages of notes briefly situating and glossing the work while detailing the nature of the manuscripts involved and listing Loy’s editorial corrections. The book ought to make for the best news of the year in modernist studies, though you can ignore modernist studies and just read it.

Tom Pickard | More Pricks Than Prizes | Pressed Wafer | 2010

A brief memoir of the 1970s that has Pickard’s arrest, imprisonment, and eventual acquittal on charges of selling marijuana as its central story, with glimpses of Eric Mottram and Jeff Nuttall and a more extensive account of Basil Bunting and what he did for Pickard as mentor and character witness at the trial. I wish we had more of this kind of thing about the days of the so-called British Poetry Revival. I’d trade it for a dozen academic studies. Written in a no-nonsense prose, with one moment where Pickard puts his foot on the gas. That’s where he’s detailing a scheme to use books as ballast in crates previously emptied of “almost one ton of Ugandan bush” and writes of selling the people who were doing this all of his copies of The Strand Magazine, his sets of The Times History of World War I and Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s not enough to make the weight so he starts buying up crap books all over London. Here’s the Homeric moment: “The ancient bookseller was blissful as we bought much of his space wasting dust gathering, back breaking, spirit deadening unread and unreadable religious and military texts; all those pounds of printed pages by puffing parsons, anaemic academics, bloated bishops, geriatric generals, corpulent combatants and high ranking haemorrhoidal heroes. All that catechistic cataplasm, the militarist mucus, that pedantic pus from festering farts. The engaging entrails of emetic ambassadors, pestiferous papers by prudish pedagogues. I struggled to the wagon with arms full of books, and still he wasn’t satisfied—so I purchased conquering chronicles by conceited commanders….” This goes on for another 40 or fifty lines and ends as follows: “And it still wasn’t enough so I bought the works of talk show hosts, canting sofa cunts coughing up chintzy chunder, bloated volumes by toady poets who sit in circles blowing prizes up each other’s arseholes with straws—until we’d filled the crates.”

Jed Birmingham and Kyle Schlesinger, eds. | Mimeo Mimeo 4 | Winter 2010

Like Pickard’s memoir, a valuable resource for those who want to catch up with the British poetry that matters most, including the “only known essay” by Asa Benveniste, whose poems ought to have more readers, interviews about small press publishing with Tom Raworth and David Meltzer, essays by Ken Edwards and Alan Halsey (on the mimeo editions of Bill Griffiths), and selections from Eric Mottram’s correspondence with Jeff Nuttall. It concludes with Miles Champion’s interview with Trevor Winkfield.

Gizelle Gajelonia | Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus | Tinfish Press | 2010

The modernist canon as read and written through in Hawaii—Stevens, Bishop, Crane, Ashbery, and Eliot’s “The Waste Land” for starters. Here’s the Eliot poem’s opening lines:

He Do Da Kine in Different Voices

January February March April May June
July August September October November
December is the cruelest month, mass breeding
Plumeria leis out of homestead land, mixing
Exoticism with desire, stirring
Dull roots with windward and mauka showers….

The chapbook ends with prose titled “The Day I Overthrew The Kingdom of Hawai‘i”: “I remember filling out the application form. Gajelonia, Gizelle, Evangelista. My middle name is my mother’s maiden name because I’m Filipino. ‘Are you an American citizen?’ the form asked. No, I told you I’m Filipino. Technically. I have a green card. And a green passport. But I’m an American. I’ve been here 4 years. I got my period here. My first love was an American boy named David Powers. My favorite boy band was N Sync, not Backstreet Boys. I’m in the ninth grade. In the Philippines there’s no such thing as a ninth grade. I’m not sure what I am. Is that an option? Call my mother in case of an emergency….”

Rachel Warriner | Eleven Days | RunAmok | 2011

One poem each day between the IMF’s arrival in Ireland and the agreement signed: “burn me up / in anonymous austerity / your fat face / lies / in last sovereign days” is how it begins and “sold out and done” is how it ends. For now. Promising work from a new press in Cork.

Ron Silliman | Wharf Hypothesis | LINESchapbooks | 2011

I’d lost track of Silliman’s poetry since the The Alphabet was published entire and found it pleasant and interesting to look over his shoulder on the train from Victoria to the Text Festival in Bury, England, noticing him noticing this and that (missing baseball diamonds) and thinking about writing and about kissing while punning along (“feeling blurby—Simon / mit Garfunkel”). Like Dickens in America—maybe—and Dickens ends the poem, which is said to belong to “Northern Soul,” which is in turn said to be a part of Universe. Beautifully produced, with a cover photograph by Tom Raworth.


Keith Tuma‘s On Leave: A Book of Anecdotes is due from Salt later this year.

Tuma’s Attention Span for 2010, 2009 . Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Cathy Wagner

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Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon-Grosman, ed. | Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology | Oxford | 2009

Beautifully polemical anthology that situates Latin American poetry in its complicated historical and cultural matrices. Alongside work by poets we’ve heard of (or should have), represented here are Aztec and Mayan poems addressing the European invasion; astonishing oral poetry, old and new; and a selection of visual and concrete poetry that connects the midcentury concrete poetry revolution to indigenous traditions. The anthology draws attention to the influence of indigenous poets on avant-garde internationalistas: “The poet is a God. Don’t sing about rain, poet. Make it rain!” an Aymara poet told Vicente Huidobro. Many poems here reflect what Vicuña calls “a poetics of resistance.” I was elated by Gabriel Gudding’s translations of the Nicaraguan Ruben Dario, whose poems Englished had never shaken me before.

Christopher Nealon | The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in the American Century | Harvard | 2011

Brilliantly makes its case: that contemporary and recent poetry has all along been influenced by and actively investigating the workings of capital. I didn’t agree with every one of Nealon’s interpretations of individual poems, but I rarely find myself reading criticism with this much note-taking gusto. I have been telling everyone about this book.

Srecko Kosovel, tr. from Slovene by Ana Jelnikar and Barbara Siegel Carlson | Look Back, Look Ahead: The Selected Poems of Srecko Kosovel | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Contemporary of Rilke’s. Imagine Rilke with lashings of John Wieners and Khlebnikov.

Carla Harryman & Lyn Hejinian | The Wide Road | Belladonna | 2011

An enviably intellectually-fecund friendship set itself the important work of trying to think and write sex, collaboratively, as women. I wish I’d had this book years ago. “We eroticize our earthly situations and conditions and likewise they eroticize us…Our vagina accommodates the proverbial railway station it has sometimes been compared to. To be enormous is a wish that comes over us in our hot desperation. Then, miraculously, everything on earth swells to our proportions.” Yup that’s how it works. Crazy smart and crazy sexy.

Dana Ward | The Squeakquel, pt. 1 & pt. 2 | The Song Cave | 2011

In this and in Typing Wild Speech and his newer work Ward is making something new with poetic narrative. Blows forward fast in dawn glow. Bliss to be with.

Ryan Walker | You Will Own It Permanently | regs times | 2010

Charming dorky conversational smart friendly, just adorable; I don’t know how you can get hold of this one, as it’s self-published—try, or Lulu.

Sommer Browning | Either Way I’m Celebrating: Poems and Comics | Birds, LLC | 2011

Again charm, and serious wit, plus arch and goofy drawings. Somebody sent me this and I opened it after a hard day and was lightened. Thanks.

Juliana Spahr | Well Then There Now | Black Sparrow | 2011

Ethical effort is the engine of Spahr’s poems. (I am using an anti-ecological metaphor on purpose, because self-consciousness about the harm a contemporary subject does to the world is central to Spahr’s writing.) Sometimes the effort feels embarrassing, as if the poem’s tires have gone flat because it didn’t want to use up too much air while driving—the effort feels effortful. But then the effortfulness twists before my eyes so that I see that it is part of the poem (it becomes an aesthetic method), and that she is brave for allowing the effort to be part of the poem’s armature, and that an enormous risktaking intelligence is guiding the poem and organizing its anxious pleasures. I like to feel my suspicions of this work, and I like the thinking I have to do when I think about its challenges poetic and extrapoetic.

William Fuller | Hallucination | Flood | 2011

There is something hilarious about the way William Fuller’s profession (chief fiduciary officer at a trust company) is fetishized by his fans, as if he knows something other people don’t—he’s got the secret. Maybe he does. Wry mystical intelligence and pleasure in the word-hoard throughout, and the last poem “The Circuit” is worth the price of the book.

Evie Shockley | The New Black | Wesleyan | 2011

Witty and sharp. Uses many playful forms (often versions of acrostics) to examine the injustices, racist and otherwise, that manifest in the ways we address and describe one other. The formal play means that our attention keeps on being drawn to surface. As the Oulipians saw, surface reconfigured has the potential to disrupt what plays over our thought-screens; these poems are North American instances of Vicuña’s “poetics of resistance.”

Marianne Morris | Commitment | Bad Press & Critical Documents | 2011

Shiny gold-paper-covered chapbook from a younger Canadian poet living in London who grabs all of us, especially the banks, by the hairy scruff and shakes till falling money turns to fumes that light up the shit we’re in. Chris Nealon might want to check it out. A lot of pissed-off marvelously riotous poetry is coming out of the islands off Europe right now. Just got hold of Frances Kruk’s Down We Go chapbook, which is like a cracked white china bowl of shiny nails, and Chris Goode’s new anthology of young (all under 30) English poets, Better than Language: An anthology of new modernist poetries, also worth reading.


Catherine Wagner teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her latest book is My New Job.

Wagner’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory

Attention Span 2011 | David Dowker

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Will Alexander | Compression & Purity | City Lights | 2011

Caroline Bergvall | Meddle English | Nightboat | 2011

Michael Boughn | Cosmographia | BookThug | 2010 

Clark Coolidge | This Time We Are Both | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Robert Duncan, ed. Michael Boughn and Victor Coleman | The H.D. Book | California | 2011

William Fuller | Hallucination | Flood | 2011

Carla Harryman & Lyn Hejinian | The Wide Road | Belladonna | 2011

Susan Howe | That This | New Directions | 2010

Alice Notley | Culture of One | Penguin | 2011

George Quasha | Verbal Paradise | Zasterle | 2010

Leslie Scalapino | The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom | Post-Apollo | 2010


More David Dowker here.

Dowker’s Attention Span for 201020092008200720062005. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2009 – Keith Tuma

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Stephen Rodefer | Call It Thought: Selected Poems | Carcanet | 2008

This is a generous selection from Rodefer’s work, introduced by Rod Mengham. It’s too short on selections from Four Lectures, but other than that most of what you need is here. Reading the first and presumably earliest poems in the book, which I’d not seen, confirmed my suspicion that Rodefer emerged full-grown from the head of Apollo to set up as the last secretary of modernism. The poet is both hero and anti-hero in that tradition: leave it to Rodefer to remake “lives of the artists” as “lies of the artists.” We already knew that Rodefer is Villon, or might as well be, and some years on he’s translating Baudelaire as Zukofsky. There’s not a better poet alive.

Robert von Hallberg | Lyric Powers | The University of Chicago Press | 2008

This will ruffle a few feathers: “My argument is that the most distinctive authority of lyric rests still on its affirmative function, whereas the intellectual disciplines derive from doubt.” Praise rather than complaint as the central lyric impulse, criticality a subset of rationality, the limits of which lyric reveals. “Musicality authenticates poetry, a crucial function in a discourse that strains against social conventions.” Von Hallberg links poetry or rather an “orphic tradition” with structures of belief that persist beyond irony and skepticism in a secular culture, and answers those concerned that the “affirmative effect of form . . . might discourage an intelligent warrior class from the struggle to preserve the autonomy of the republic” with a question about “whether the pleasures of fully realized art do not encourage one to achieve a peace so well crafted that it seems divinely sanctioned.” Chapters on authority, praise, civility, thought, musicality, and universality: much to ponder throughout. This is a powerful defense of poetry at a moment when the academy could care less.

William Fuller | Three Replies | Barque | 2008

This is a chapbook containing “replies” to Parson Platt, Thomas Traherne, and Experience, dedicated to “the New Mystagogues.” Fuller has been reinventing the prose poem since Sugar Borders (1993), and his recent full-length collections, Sadly and Watchword, contain both prose and verse. But what these new poems are doing with the verse line and prose is pretty wild, a step beyond that earlier work. Does it make sense to speak of it as a prosody? As ever, the writing is both meditative and deadpan, fast as a disappearing proposition, thought emptying itself of pretension: “Compare this statement to the gas pump, seen from behind the steering wheel, late at night.”

Norma Cole | Natural Light | Libellum | 2009

Especially for its first sequence or grouping, “Pluto’s Disgrace,” as it works the Pluto/Persephone myth in fragments about “iron disorders” and everyday violence. Notes on metal and wealth. As ever, Pluto is in the dark, and Persephone altogether beyond him, “nobody”: “the smallest telescope / reveals a golden glow / coming from her neck.” Her presence calls up Cole’s fiercely ethical response: “if you can, wave–a / woman holds / binoculars to / her eyes.”

Joseph Macleod | Cyclic Serial Zeniths from the Flux: Selected Poems | Waterloo Press | 2009

Andrew Duncan selects and introduces the great Anglo-Scottish modernist, author of the book-length The Ecliptic (1930), which was of considerable interest to Pound, Bunting, and Rexroth and has been highly valued by poets in Cambridge (UK) since. Only two sections of that book are here, but there is plenty more poetry until now nearly impossible to find, including works from the 1940s, when Macleod published some of his finest poetry as Adam Drinan, and lengthy selections from Macleod’s verse drama, which Duncan rates highly, as he also views Macleod’s career in the theater as crucial. It’s time we move beyond considering what it is that the strange and (as far as poetry is concerned) sad history of Macleod’s career tells us about modernism and British poetry and start reading his poems closely. The poems are marvelous and the unpacking is worth doing. One strophe from “Enterprise Scotland” (1946): “The hard ingine of a mother love / sorts and snowks, fichers and favours, / wales the best of the braw stuff, / sprushes with carved paper / tissues that scintillate and undulate / into and furth of her bairn-multitudes / that enlighten and illuminate / the minds and eyes of her bairn-multitudes.”

Rodrigo Toscano | Collapsible Poetics Theater | Fence Books | 2008

I have seen a few of the texts collected here performed at conferences: they’re fun to watch. One text, “Eco-Strato-Static,” which might have been written by Albert Camus had Albert Camus Toscano’s sense of humor, is up at the Meshworks YouTube site, in two parts, the first of which is here. This one might as well be—would work well as—radio drama. The physical theater of poetics theater is not always important, I think, though I’m hardly an expert, and it matters more to some of these works than others. A “collapsible” poetics theater might be one that you can fold and carry in your pocket, like a book. Toscano is very funny and his writing lively, playful—Sitwellian or Steinian and shaped by popular and local idioms and several languages—and these texts move easily if sometimes a little self-consciously among the discourses and problems of post-identity and labor politics, philosophy, and (alas) experimental poetry. It’s interesting to think of what the poetics theater format adds on the page, which is where most will find this work, and arguably where it is most realized. Consider the opening of Part 2 of “Truax Inimical,” for instance, where the format allows Toscano to get away with lines he’d never get away with in poems: “I fly in the deep of the night. I fly toward the source of the light.” That’s cheesy but only because I’ve stripped away numbers that precede each word (there’s one word per line) and slow the reading and make it something else. One of the few books I’ve read recently that is truly “innovative.”

Tim Atkins, ed. | Onedit 13 | | 2009

This is one of my favorite webzines, its selections mixing familiar and less familiar names mostly from the UK and USA, each number short enough to allow for focus, avoiding the sprawl that the web encourages. Austere production nods to the typewriter, and Atkins keeps finding interesting new work. Number 13 includes “Proposals” by Allen Fisher, which features images of Fisher’s paintings (diptychs) giving on to texts (diptychs of verse and prose). There aren’t many images of Fisher’s paintings easy to find, so I was grateful for this simply for the view of Fisher’s practice it allows, and here the web format is perfectly considered. In what ways is Fisher Blakean? “As if anyone really knew what existence links to ecstatic life.” Work by Sophie Robinson, Rebecca Rosier, Emily Critchley, and others.

Caroline Bergvall | Alyson Singes | Belladonna Books | 2008

Pseudo-Chaucerian idioms romp through the history of women and post-feminist discourse: “Everything was different / yet pretty much the same. / Godabove ruled all / & the Franks the rest. / Womenfolk were owned ne trafficked / nor ghosted, and so were / most workfolk enserfed. / Sunsets were redder then, / legs a little shorter.” Light fare and the better for it, at its best when least self-conscious of an avant-garde, where sex trumps theory.

John Wilkinson | Down to Earth | Salt | 2008

The date and title of his last book, Lake Shore Drive, might suggest otherwise, but this is John Wilkinson’s first American book following his arrival at Notre Dame, because of its subject matter and in some ways its prosody. It makes sense that the book takes its epigraph from Ed Dorn. The longer poems catalog the devastation of the psychic and material landscapes encountered: “dawn / recurs with its terrible systems of belief, / whose proceeds kill in all good faith . . . .” The turbines involved are global, but the focus is on local exhaust fumes, which is to say North America. Since landing in the USA Wilkinson has also emerged as one of the sharpest critics writing about poetry, American and British both. A note describes Down to Earth as one book-length project, though there are titles for individual poems: the haunting “Like Feeling” and “The Indiana Toll” are probably my favorites. Anthony Walton’s Mississippi and Luis Urrea’s Across the Wire, together with an exhibition about Mexican migration at Notre Dame’s Snite Museum, are mentioned as important to the work. English idioms (“hoovered up”) survive and Wilkinson’s impressive vocabulary, but the sentence rhythms have been punched up, phrases clipped. Odd to have the burning tires and trashed cars of North America catalogued by such a poet, trimming his impossible eloquence. Traces of the earlier syntax remain, of course, and he’s capable of smuggling in Eliot or Bunting (who would after all make more sense to a new compression as it meets this catalog of horrors: “Words! A light-pen is too /compromised,” which is funny in more ways than one). I might add without pretending that it means very much that it seems to me likely that American readers will find this Wilkinson’s most “accessible” volume.

cris cheek | part: short life housing | The Gig | 2009

An impressive selected poems spanning some twenty-five years, revised and introduced or reframed for this substantial, sharply produced volume. For me the best of it might be the longest, central section, titled fogs, written in Lowestoft, England over ten years: “The initial year’s procedure was to go for a walk in a fog and to talk into a voice recorder whilst walking. Speaking fogs, phatic models for embodied creative consciousness, intensified formal quirks of my curiosity with these engagements.” Here’s the ending of one of the poems in that series, sans format (the poems are all in boxes, for starters) and line and word breaks: “rains for a blithering pink in the shape of collective drunk mated who milks buckled moons from a stick waves a clouding root stun-planted shivering dress of sheet lightning ink plotted witness and span.”

Paul Craig Roberts at Counterpunch, and Nouriel Roubini at his RGE Monitor site, among three or four economists who are worth reading as it all falls down.

More Keith Tuma here.

Attention Span – Kit Robinson

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Jorge Luis Borges, trans. Andrew Hurley | Ficciones | Penguin | 2008

Marcel Proust, trans. Lydia Davis | Swann’s Way | Penguin | 2002

Alejo Carpentier, trans. Harriet De Onis | In the Kingdom of This World | Farrar | 2006

Ned Sublette | The World that Made New Orleans | Lawrence Hill | 2008

Mark Scroggins | The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky | Shoemaker & Hoard | 2007

Lorenzo Thomas | Dancing on Main Street | Coffee House | 2004

Laura Moriarty | A Semblance: Selected and New Poems, 1975-2007 | Omnidawn | 2007

Jean Day | Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium | Adventures in Poetry | 2006

William Fuller | Watchword | Flood | 2006

Rodrigo Toscano | To Leveling Swerve | Krupskaya | 2004

Joanne Kyger | About Now: Collected Poems | National Poetry Foundation | 2007


More Kit Robinson here.