Larry Sawyer’s “Unable to Fully California”
I keep forgetting to post something about Larry Sawyer’s new book, “Unable to California” (A title I really like a lot). It came out a few months ago, is a really enjoyable read and Larry, in general, is a very decent guy, definitely worth checking out. Larry will be reading in the BONK! series in Racine here sometime in early March, too. So look forward to that. But here’s news from Larry on his book. Check it out and follow your nose from there:
:::::::::::::::::Available now at http://www.facebook.com/l/fe597lF6b6xrC-w-M1zQCHYrCuA;LULU.com and http://www.facebook.com/l/fe597rLZ_jbc_5lRfFrgmUEhZ-g;Amazon.com
Praise for Unable to Fully California:
I love the clear style, unforced music. It is not so much a strange poetry as the poetry of a stranger, the way Bishop was a Brazilian in Boston and a Bostonian in Brazil. I fell in love with your “blue fruit” and “inescapable tomorrow,” also what seems like renunciation not of sentimentality but of cliché …I like even the quasi-Romantic dislocations here: “There is a beauty to ice / only a statue understands.” I’m not a statue, so I only partially understand, but that should be more than enough for Larry Sawyer’s uncanny picnic on no grass … seemed as real as the Bronx, and I couldn’t stop thinking: I am so lucky that this poetry is so good.
Normally, such a champion of poetry as a public act tends to suffer as a writer, never rising above being a mere trendsetter who is better at promotion than writing. And yet, Larry Sawyer’s new collection of poems, Unable to Fully California, proves him to be quite the opposite. As a reader, I do my best to avoid hyperbole, but that is very difficult when it comes to this fine, elegant, and downright raucous collection of poems.
Sawyer writes in “Galatea, Dumbing Hard” that “our throats filled with history/we laugh like models/who are without their clothes.” His poems contain so much history, the voices of the dislocated and the familiar, and bring them together into fine, flowing lyrical wordplay. One reads a poem, even the short ones, and feels as though no stone has been left unturned, and repeated readings reveal sides of the stone that weren’t there the first time. I’m on my fourth reading currently, and it seems as though no reading will ever be final or satisfactory. There is so much in each line.
Sawyer’s poems also demonstrate a peculiar and distinctive mastery in diversity of register. He writes in “Miracle of Apples”:
“Someday the apples will be liberated, the pear
will start a revolution and the banana will
commit suicide, rather than be executed.”
The life of the word, as a poetic and a political entity, is expanded to greater proportion. The world at small and large becomes shrunk and expanded. The vision described by his language cannot sit calmly with either the enormous or the minscule. He speaks to all of us, both in a crowd and as intimate readers.
So, avoiding hyperbole is useless at this point. Sawyer’s book is one of the best, if not the best, poetry release of 2010. It is vital, relevant and flat out incredible.
…there’s a spontaneity of composition (anything can happen and does) that reminds us of what Rene Char was supposed to have been. On first impression, the poems can seem scattershot, like the art works of Niki de Saint Phalle composed by shotgun. Because Sawyer’s style is so open, the casual and intense find comfort in each other and the remarkable detail emerges: “What horizon/spreads in the distance/muscles ripening?” Much of this work is therefore fresh and unexpectable, like the final line of his elegy at Char’s gravesite: “Quiet snow, gossip over the hero’s grave.”
I was gladdened to receive this spirited book in the mail via Lulu and not having heard of Larry Sawyer or his poetry before I feel reinvigorated now because of both. Quite simply this book is iconic in its straightforward energy and dazzling virtuosity and, in fact, I feel like the equal parts delight and amazement provided by this book (that holds many stylistic irons in the fire) display a technical daring and restless humor that is exactly what is lacking in many a contemporary book of poetry that calls itself modern. Filled with local colour and some kind of bizarre international flair these poems, for all their decentered charm, reveal quite personal mysteries and emanate an edgy verve that repeated readings reaffirmed. By turns complex and kooky, the deceptive simplicity of themes presented by these discordant tones use randomness to such successful effect that my first impulse upon finishing this poetic tour de force was to reread what I’d just enjoyed.
—Bill Sweet, via http://www.facebook.com/l/fe597LV4jcTZVFIEFI1fY6gn3vw;Lulu.com
Larry Sawyer’s book is a treasure. It reinvents and flamencos with language playfully, thoughtfully, and truthfully. This is poetry at its best—where images snap like sugar peas in the mouth and whip smart commentary rivets you with a subtle chop to the neck. This is 007 poetry—sexy, direct, and shaken with an Ashbery-like acumen for the casual poetic Molotov cocktail in the nunnery.
—Lina ramona Vitkauskas
Unable to Fully California
Author: Larry Sawyer
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Otoliths (September 1, 2010)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches