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Tremolo: Poems (National Poetry Series) Paperback – July 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: National Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060935685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060935689
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,520,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“What a treat to listen to this new voice with its nutty intelligence and its strange authority.” (Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States, 2001)

“These are buoyant, agile, and often frightened poems -- poems that would like to outsmart themselves but -- poignantly, thankfully -- cannot.” (Mark Levine, author of Enola Gay and Debt)

“Flipping through Tremolo, you immediately confront a prickly stir of humor, philosophy and romantic giddiness; reading this book is something like walking into a kitchen at a party and coming upon a wild charmer you’d never met, mid-gesticulation -- a terrific storyteller, but also one eager to switch gears mid-sentence, mid-phrase, mid-thought...the perfect panacea: a source of wisdom disguised as a thrill ride.” (Emily Nussbaum, The New York Times Book Review)

“[Tremolo] brings to mind both T.S. Eliot and McSweeney’s....” (Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker)

About the Author

Spencer Short, a graduate of James Madison University, received his M.F.A. at the University of Michigan, where he was awarded both the Hopwood Award and the Cowden Fellowship. A Maytag Fellow and a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he has also won an Academy of American Poets Award. Spencer Short has worked as a lecturer, a wine steward, a bouncer, a bartender, a copy editor, on a keg truck, and at London's Globe Theatre project. He lives in Iowa City.

Customer Reviews

I'm starting to sound like a jackass though.
mister
Check out some of his work on-line, and judge for yourself.
Mark Yakich
It's the book of someone who has read a lot of poetry.
ryan kohl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Achieves a true tremolo effect/affect in his poems with the rapid alternation between tones -at first wry then immediately sensitive, open and then oblique, lyric as much as strategic. Out there in front of irony is something else entirely -- and its deeply suspicious -- to get there requires experimental navigations and a caffienated confidence. Spencer's poems trust no one and keep on moving -- and with all their contortions, you'd think the poet would be exhausted, but he's just getting started, he's heading out for new frontiers, he's sneaking up behind you.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mister on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book jangles and pops, spins yarn and b.s. at an almost equal ratio, and is possessed of one of the purest, most complex, and thoroughly analyzed hearts (a word that is used in nearly every poem)I have encountered in a first book. It manages, through its mastery of a number of formal and situational techniques, to read variously and never seem fomulaic, yet stays in a remarkably close orbit around its core: the desire to communicate in the face of loss (of love; of the loss of true knowledge the accumulation and overflow of trivial knowledge accompanies). And yes, it approaches sentimentality, but it is this freedom to feel that seems somehow so new in these poems. I'm starting to sound like a jackass though. This is an exceedingly human book in a time when most poems seem to be written w/ calculators or by multiple choice. It is also smart as my new sailor suit with its brass buttons and serious collar. I'll be looking forward to more work by Short, but am happy to have his book now.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Washington on July 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Swift, sweet, irreverent, rangy and as spirited in the writing and voice work as it is splendid in design. Laced with a surprising amount of dramatic moments, little laughs and a sweet side. It's less about the dangers and pleasures of the unchained id than the giddy anarchy of the unbound imagination. Compared to most of what else is out there, though, it's so good-natured and tame that you can't help but let it win you over.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By spencer short on August 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
I haven't checked in here for a while but did today and saw your review. I liked it. You make some excellent points &, believe it or not, they are criticisms I, myself, have aimed at the book.
It's a shame your friends don't like it, of course. I was in graduate school at the time I wrote it & was writing the poems essentially for a handful of MY close friends (also MFA students). The poems are full of dumb jokes, puns, riffs & references to shared experience with them. No one will ever get most of them. In this sense the book is probably a bit too obscure, hermetic even.
Still, I'm glad you read it.
A quick note, though. It's spelled "Tremolo" not "Tremelo".
For future reference.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
...a wonderful collection in every sense of the word...thank god for a book that both effects you intellectually, but also makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up...this is the kind of book that reminds you that poetry can still get you in the gut and make your head spin...smart without being pretentious, honest without being melodramatic, hopeful without being precious...this is the kind of book you expect midway through a writer's career-the fact that this is the poet's first book is a real artistic achievement...highly recommended...
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ryan kohl on April 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's pretty amazing the equal amounts of vitriolic and overly-laudatory response this book has received. While I find it neither uninspired or, in the end, "inspiring" in the great sense, it seems to me a consistently vibrant, funny, and, at times, touching debut. It's edginess comes from the cross-hatching of a sentimental streak with wariness of conventional poetic sentimentality, though both serve to mask the essentially modernist conundrum at the center of the book: what if the speaking voice can't hold its competing forces together?
In this sense, the book's derivation -- its reliance on quoting, alluding to, and bastardizing other texts -- serves as part of the drama. The poems push away their "other", the X whose love with the speaker comes and goes, by constantly walling the speaker off behind a run of arcane and contemporary allusiveness.
The device becomes a defense mechanism, albeit a tragic one. The "ghosts" of the book can't be held together, and the very language of the poem disintegrates, as the last line of the last poem, "UHF" indicates: "lost on the music-boat of youth, sighing 'justice -ice. -Ice. Ice."
Still, the book seems, at times, slavishly drawn to its influences, almost flaunting them, the way a young student might try to make an impression in an upper-level class. While the enthusiasm is welcome, we don't need to be made to feel the teacher. That said, I find the formal invention, and the ease with which the book tackles formal restrictions both traditional and, seemingly, random, to be nearly dazzling. The poems show great power of invention when they need to. Though invention, in the Romantic sense, doesn't seem to be their intent.
It's not, of course, "Harmonium".
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I remember when I first read it. Picking it up from a friend's kitchen table, simultaneously made curious and revolted by the insect on the cover. The contents, like from a strange language, I had never been exposed to before. Almost musical, its cadence. One can love a song in another language and not have any idea what it really means. So that's how it started. I have since read and re-read these poems many times, sometimes outloud, often whispered. Discovering the wit, the tempered anxieties, and sentiments dressed-up in detached language play. I am not embarrassed to admit having gone to the dictionary on more than several occasions. The recognition, however seldom, when coming across one of the author's many literary references or allusions was pure delight.

How to solve for X? I was never good at math, anyway. But who cares?
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Tremolo: Poems (National Poetry Series)
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