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Mule (New Poetry) Paperback – November 29, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: New Poetry
  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Cleveland State University Poetry Center (November 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880834936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880834930
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Syntax is the facility of the soul, O Hara taught us, and somehow in the first decade of the 21st century, our poets decided to separate syntax and what compels us, as if the two weren t of the same element as if we read no Berryman and memorized no Shakespeare, and as if their punctuation did not stop our breath! What a joy now to discover a voice such as Shane McCrae's, who in this first decade of a new century finds his new music, and compels us with its outbursts and heartbreak and yells and stuttering of joy and its sudden clarity of perception that is like no other. Shane McCrae is a master. --Ilya Kaminsky

Some books come down like gods dying to transform us out of our empty, shattered lives. Mule,/i> is such a book. Never shying away from sudden confusions of pain and beauty, Shane McCrae's questions are not why so much pain? why so much beauty? but, instead, how can they remake us? McCrae's is a living, breathing poetry made of wisdom and wrenching song. --Katie Ford

This astonishing, extremely beautiful book is, in a way, a new twist on the epithalamion, tracing the innumerable and inescapable marriages that fissure our lives. And it traces them with an eerie repetitive force that, while echoing the edgier experiments of Modernism, still manages to feel utterly unfamiliar. It's a book both haunted and haunting possessed by sound and its tremendous momentum, that somehow-suspended momentum, hypnotic in its rhythms and compelling in its headlong fall into the truth of the heart. --Cole Swenson

About the Author

Shane McCrae is the author of MULE (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and the chapbooks One Neither One (Octopus Books) and IN CANAAN (Rescue Press). His work has appeared in African American Review, Agni, The American Poetry Review, DENVER QUARTERLY, Effing Magazine, Typo and The Best American Poetry 2010. He holds degrees from Linfield College, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Harvard Law School, and is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Iowa. He is married, and has three children.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Harrison on January 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Mule" is one of the most impressive debuts by a young American poet in recent memory. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Ilya Kaminsky's staggering collection, though McCrae's is more formally innovative and syntactically daring. Through break-neck enjambment and repetition of phrase, "Mule" is simultaneously an incantation and a stirring lament, obsessively excavating his subject matter: questions of identity, transcendence, and the challenges of trying to construct a good living out of the shards of brokenness.

Shane McCrae is a much-needed voice in contemporary poetry, as his poems are both heartbreaking and inspiring. This book will leave you both hurting and healing, in places you never knew you could feel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great, Emotional Book. Much Better than Expected. The Writer did an Amazing Job in the presentation as well as making the characters coming to life. Excellent Book. The Best. Thanks.
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Format: Paperback
Shane McCrae, Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010)

I cut my poetic teeth, back in high school, on the dadas and the surrealists, thanks to Michael Benedikt's anthology The Poetry of Surrealism (a text that desperately needs to come back into print; to this day some of the translations in there, especially the late Michael Hamburger's, are my favorites of the poems in question). As a result, I've generally been less impressed with the whole autobiographical/confessional school of Whitman descendants that seem to rule American poetry. The exceptions—Bukowski, Richard Siken, a few others—are those whose poetic style is distinctive enough that at times it seems to overcome the material. Shane McCrae, whose Mule is exactly that sort of thing (a book about courtship, marriage, and divorce), is one of those poets. Mule practically bleeds style, and while I'm not one to complain when style gets in the way of substance (e.g. my review of Timothy Donnelly's Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit, a book no one else I know gets), it should be noted that at no point does McCrae ever lose sight of his subject matter here.

“We married on a speeding train the roof
Fighting with knives a speeding train we were
Fighting each other stabbing through the roof
The windows but where were the passengers
Stabbing each other full of holes but no
Blood and no bones the knives slipped through our bod-
ies and we didn't lose our balance...”
(--”[We Married on a Speeding Train]”)

I don't think it would be a spoiler alert to tell you that this will not end well.

This is McCrae's first book, but it doesn't feel like a first book; this is accomplished poetry with a strong voice from a guy who knows what he's doing. If this is the beginning of his career, then he should be fearsome by the time we get to the middle of it. ****
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