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Words for Empty and Words for Full (Pitt Poetry Series) Paperback – March 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (March 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082296077X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822960775
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“As always with a Bob Hicok book, fascinating and a book you sort of can’t help but pick up and suddenly, two hours later, find yourself having read straight through. I can think of just about no contemporary poets who publish such consistently great work.”
—Corduroy Books



“With ‘Words for Empty and Words for Full,’ Hicok has begun to find a way to combine the several aspects of his imagination--narration, association, humor, self-conscious reflexivity. The result is poetry memorable for its structure, its image and sound, but also for demanding that we readers enter into some serious thinking about our place and time.”
—Boston Review



“Bob Hicok is that rarity, a cheerful contemporary poet—if not completely happy, still hopeful and celebrative. Ever alert to the transient beauties and beautiful ironies of the world, Hicok’s poems praise even as they grieve. Love, physical and emotional, is a consistent theme: the joy of it, the need for it, the pain of lacking it, and above all, its ability to redeem.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books

 



“One of the hallmarks of Hicok’s poems is their momentum, the exhilarating force with which his voice carries them forward. But the poems here are driven by an especial sense of urgency, by Hicok’s need to engage with the problems that swirl around us.”
—West Branch

About the Author

Bob Hicok is associate professor of English at Virginia Tech University. He is the author of This Clumsy Living, Insomnia Diary, Animal Soul (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award,) Plus Shipping, and The Legend of Light. Hicok is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Poetry Prize from the Library of Congress, the Felix Pollak Prize, the Jerome J. Shestack Prize, and four Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in five volumes of Best American Poetry.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. O. Aptowicz on March 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been huge fan of Bob Hicok's previous work, his books of poetry consistently finding their way into my bag time and time again. I find something comforting and human about the way his mind wanders on the page, the way his poems pick up so many seemingly disparate strands of thought and knot them into something profound yet grounded.

In his latest book, "Words for Empty and Words for Full," Hicok has not only continued this tradition of muscular & engaged poetry, but put his considerable talent to the test by tackling some incredibly difficult subject matters.

Take for example "In These Times," the poem which opens this book. Hicok grew up & still has family in Michigan, a state that's been ravaged by the current horrible economy. Hicok works hard to find the words to express what he sees without being patronizing, or victimizing, or claiming pain that isn't his, or just declaring facts without an ounce of poetics or grace, or any of the numerous other pitfalls other poets stumble into.

The poem begins : "My sister's out of work and my brother's / out of work and my other brother's / out of work, these are facts available / over the phone or in person, just as now, / three clouds travel north, one / above another, smallish, amoeba shaped, / and the bottom cloud just died, / and the top two have joined forces / and left me to fend for myself/ under a new sky. // How vague is that, amoeba shaped?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. R. Nickles Jr. on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a great book of poetry - period. Even though it seems to go from one place to another to another to another - it seems to be really exciting that you don't know where the author is going to be taking you, and I think that's just plain brilliant. Honestly I think it would be better if the poems weren't titled and that way you would have to figure out what in the world he's talking about - it somewhat defeats the purpose I think for a poem to have a title - because that's like giving the story away. I enjoyed reading this book and I plan to go through it again.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This has been a bit of a struggle. I fear the naivete, the cummingsy sentimentality (all adults are children in the universe/in which I am a god) are genuine - genuinely genuine even! Hicok's efforts to get a handle on the Virginia Tech shootings, something real yet banal yet tragic (and for him tragically unavoidable), are inadequate, embarrassingly so

And yet:-
Smart people/agree we're not that smart (p8)
Was Bonaparte a fool/or a genius? Yes. (p10)
Here, night says, I brought you this bouquet of gone (p15)
God/is calling to say He's not coming (p18)
Blood clots because it's full of exclamation marks! (p20; this satirical yet affectionate piece - middle age contemplates youth? - definitely kicks ass*)
..the séance of his flesh.. (p32)
money [would] realize it doesn't need us now that it has computers to play with (p55)
..going outside to say goodnight to the lawn mower (p74 - this in a 'death' poem)
..rain as delicate/as a shoplifter (p86)
The moon, you know, goes through the motions/too (p87)
..babies in strollers,/the prow of our genetic ship (p93)

Some haul - but I don't wanna have to pan for gold. As I said in an earlier draft of this review, I'm a sucker for first person, go-with-the-flow verse (if you were sentient in the sixties how could you not be?) but too often the image these poems conjure up, in the earlier part of the book especially, is that of a man staring at a screen wondering what on earth to say next. 'I am trying to mean more than I did/when I started writing this poem.' There are exceptions. In the perfectly realised Getting in line, p76, Hicok reins in his cummingsian sensibility just in time.
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