From Publishers Weekly
Teare won acclaim last year with Sight Map. This new collection is more unified, responding to the death of a lover, from AIDS. Throughout the first half, long lines and long sentences envision the departed lover as Adam, and their lost love as a lost garden--"I couldn't speak of this/ and yet Adam found me the way language/ changed... gladly he lent his mouth,/ gave tongue to each new skin." When Teare is not praising the body he is writing almost too self-consciously about his own poetic goals: "I call him still because lyric/ like gardens, courts the senses/ through form." The fragmentary elegies and recollected stories of the second half prove less predictable: in one standout, the California coast is a "shell/ hell in which the sea kneels/ tongue/ band// and serenade." Teare's loss feels real: his intensity of attention cannot be denied. And yet the poems may not add much, formally or creatively, to the rich store of work on similar topics completed a decade ago, by (among others) Timothy Liu and D.A. Powell. Interviews reveal that Teare assembled this collection years before his last two books; readers eager for his newest work will have longer to wait. (Sept.) (c)
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In the old myth, Adam named the names in paradise--each word, in its way, created in Eden its own Eden, a word not of essence, but essential, a word as palpable as the body it called to itself, an erotic word because a creative one. But Eden is not easy. To speak of it is to cast ourselves out from it; a word is paradise, at least until our breath runs out. Brian Teare's Pleasure takes upon itself the important work of remembering that Adam is for us still the erotic source from which words work their awful magic--a magic that can return to life a lover slowly dying, a lover lost to death, the page as the impossible paradise of continued life. The syllable's moment is a quick life and a carnal knowledge. But Teare sings a song that being sung comes to know itself, a knowledge that casts it out of itself, that understands that in the very midst of its audacious life lurks a darker compensation, the thought of death nearing, and death that nears. I know of no other poet right now returning his readers with such fervent beauty and stark intelligence into the very difficulty of the words in which he writes--these elegiac words that reverse death as a final consequence to life that are themselves mortal. Desolation strikes an abandoned note inside devotion, but does not cancel out the whole. The whole music is an old music, a music Brian Teare still hears, still says is our music, as Eden is but a figure of the day, and these oldest myths are but our daily life when that life by the poet--in difficulty and grace--becomes for us once again naked and exposed. --Dan Beachy-Quick
The painful rip of the body away from a state of erotic joy to one of stunned aloneness is here explored in a garden of strange and thorny flowers, a garden in which the poet is tempted by the gnostic vision of reality, because it is so cruelly true to his experience. --Fanny Howe
Brian Teare is a master poet. He can "write rain into the picture" and make the written word seem real. But here, in Pleasure, he refuses to do so. He resists the way the lyric attempts to lull us or protect us from pain. In these poems language fails. The form, the poem, paper, the lyric--even pain fails. And in this failure I am moved beyond words, through words, and brought back to pleasure, to freedom, to the perfect weather of true grief, to the spectacular disaster that is life. I have not read a book like this for a long time. It is painfully good. --Rachel Zucker