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Science & Steepleflower (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – May 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation; First edition. edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811213811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811213813
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's a lustrous assurance to Forrest Gander's poems, as if each one were a solution to a problem the poet had worked out before he wrote a word. With his third book, Science & Steepleflower, Gander also proves that he is among the most gifted and accomplished poets of his generation. The collection is remarkable for its mixture of forms and sheer immediacy. And the titles alone are proof of the author's philosophical ambition--there's "Duration and Simultaneity," "The History of Manifest Destiny," and "Deflection Toward the Relative Minor":
But the clarity
of the word "is"
is a deception.
Often Gander uses the equivalent of a wide-angle lens to examine the connection between the subject and its context. "Exhaustible Appearance," written in response to a photograph, begins: "Around the burning barn, stationary objects seem to stream. / Scrub brush, twigs in sinople dirt, dry weeds, / puffballs among scattered breccia and chert." Yes, the vocabulary is rather recondite. But as R.P. Blackmur pointed out in a famous essay on Wallace Stevens, a phrase like "the moonlight fubbed the girandoles" is perfectly comprehensible if you have a dictionary at hand. And in Gander's case, his esoteric lexicon draws attention not only to itself but to the hardscrabble landscape it describes. This is reality, he seems to be saying--even if you have to look it up. --Mark Rudman

From Publishers Weekly

Slowly pushing narrative poems to the linguistic breaking point, this ambitious, erudite fourth collection builds on the achievement of Gander's Deeds of Utmost Kindness (1994). The more intimate first person of earlier collections here largely gives way to a juxtaposition radically different vocabulariesAof geology, physics, entomology; the vernacular of farmers and truckers; of sexual desireAas Gander's speakers map the varying cages of human consciousness, turning to the pleasures of the physical (and gendered) world for respite: "Can you smell/ where analyses end, the orchard/ oriole begins? Slap her breasts lightly/ to see them quiver./ Delighting in this." Gander has consistently sought a current vocabulary for erotic poetry, but is also after larger game, contending with a broad range of historical moments. "The History of Manifest Destiny" (to pick one example from a section of "History" poems), penetratingly renders the everyday brutality of colonialism through the voice of explorer George Vancouver. At other points, such verbal channeling leads to archaic or syntactic opacity, as in a series of "Meditative[s]" and "Geometric Losses." But on the whole, Gander's is a lyrical and rigorous aesthetic that resolutely confronts the impassable screen of individual mind: "the brightest dark and darkest dark/ open huge their mouths. There is a disturbance like a kiss through which cognition disappears."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aviva Vogel Gabriel on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've thought and thought (in a sort of diffuse, even off-handed way) about what it means to have epiphany and/or transformation occur in a poem. This morning, reading Forrest Gander's "Science & Steepleflower," I realized that I was "reading" along a rocky, bouldered watercourse. It was like experiencing manifestations of "other" inside the confining condition of being "other," or "manifest," oneself. Or, like trying to see red with a red gel (mylar film) one one's eyeglasses.
I drowsed for a moment after swirling inside Gander's poem "Sinister," and I dreamed a recipe. On waking, I couldn't remember the recipe itself, but only the feeling of having "arrived" at a final result, a beautiful, culminating dish. Take an ingredient (by itself insipid) and another ingredient (well, a little interesting, but hardly remarkable as a single taste), and fold and stir and mix and heat and grill and broil and voila! we arrive at the epiphanal, transformational, alchemical dish...like no other, and born of enacting step-by-step procedures. A recipe is an agenda. The resulting dish is the final distinction. "As if a distinction might be drawn at the end of a continuum." (from "Duration and Simultaneity")
I don't experience the poetry of Science and Steepleflower, however, as having "arrived," as having reached any particular point along a continuum. Rather, as in Picasso's portraits, these poems look at "reality" from multiple perspectives, and simultaneously. That activitiy is, in itself, the epiphany or transformation for the writer/reader. In ordinary states of consciousness, we tend to take single perspectives, consider singular events, singular meanings, and generally come down on one side or another of a dialectic.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lisa A. Bourbeau on May 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
I think of Holderlin's line in "Bread and Wine': "...and what are poets for in a destitute time?" and think to myself "THIS, this is what poets are for." Yes, there is that "inbred (and often haunting) spirituality, bringing new vistas of linguistic and perceptive grace" that is promised on the blurb on the back of the book, but so much more, in these poems "I hear the black tongues crawling my forearm/called by your voice, your cool matutinal warbling, to enrich/my hearing with another hearing." This is a poetry that goes into the bone and needles the marrow out of its sleep crawl. It *thrums*
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