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Choruses: Poems Paperback – October 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Troupe's sixth collection covers a wide cultural bandwidth: the Monica-gate scandal, the Heaven's Gate mass suicide; jazz greats like Miles Davis (Troupe's Miles: The Biography is the standard) and Richard Muhal Abrams; sports stars like Michael Jordan, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire; lesser known artists George Lewis & the Dancers at Laguna Pueblo, painter Robert Colescott and many more. Perhaps to formally mirror the mix, Troupe puts sonnets, villanelles and sestinas in the midst of his more characteristic jazz-inflected free-verse lines. The best poems here, however, eschew traditional European forms, and foreground Troupe's mastery of a sprawling American vernacular: "the tongue in his hands now was once a saxophone when whole,/ was a blur of fingers whooshing through golden keys of his voice belling/....conjures up spirits, the drumbeat of strong hearts goosing everything along." Troupe doesn't quite go as far into uninhibited linguistic musicality as, say, Clark Coolidge, Will Alexander or the best rhapsodic passages in Kerouac. Yet his unwillingness to forgo the referential serves a powerful didactic function beyond "the tough aesthetics" of contemporary poetry, as Troupe often employs the golden age of jazz to challenge the de-humanizing greed of white, corporate America, as well as the way "rap reduced rhythms down to scratching old records & words,/ skating over samples..." The direct political verse of "America's Business: A Simple Prayer" is well-balanced by a series of poems commissioned for the Point Loma Waste Water Management Project in San Diego, Calif., where some tankas and haikus found here are also inscribed underground, to be seen only by construction workers. In all, the book's five sections "blow out an endless supply/ of edible solos," varied and deftly sung. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Troupe's poems are about music, about unanticipated rhythms and surprising sounds, from bebop to hip hop, from haiku to tanka and even to the villanelle. In "Song," there is an attempt at an ars poetica: "words & sounds that build a bridge toward a new tongue/ within the vortex of cadences, magic weaves there/ a mystery, syncopating music rising from breath of the young." With such attention, he offers a sestina to the "39 Silent Angels" of the Heaven's Gate cult; he considers "Forty-one Seconds on a Sunday in June, in Salt Lake City, Utah," when Michael Jordan takes a title game into his own hands; and he celebrates a Miles Davis recording of "So What?" If jazz dictates Troupe's moves, the world around him deals the subject matter. Long-range visions and social and political consciousness are woven into every page. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156689090X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566890908
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you could take a snapshot of the very early work of such great jazz poets as Langston Hughes and Jack Kerouac, you would notice in the lines a solid grounding in language, nonetheless characteristic of a less adventurous, beginning writer. This could also be said of the poems of Quincy Troupe's latest book, Choruses. The poems in Choruses have that definitive jazz feel to them, not only in syntax but in tone, rhythm, and mode. The title itself implies the improvisation, fluency, and spontaneous capability of a sax player bent on blowing pure attitude. The e.e. cummings-esque all-lowercase format and the use of the first person pronoun "eye" in place of "I," are some of Troupe's trademarks, which further evoke this flavor although (in the case of "eye") they could prove to be distracting. I've heard that Roger Ebert, movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, said that movies aren't about "what you say, but how you say it." I don't think this applies to poetry. I think that the most beautiful descriptive poem about a gardenia is still a descriptive poem about a gardenia, nothing more. Therefore, for a poem to really succeed it must say something definitive in addition to saying it well. In poems like "Looking Out Between Thinking," "Sighting Birds at the Beach," and "Whenever Eye Walk By," Troupe regresses into self-indulgent descriptive mush, apparent in this passage from "Sighting Birds at the Beach," where he describes the birds as "black holes & shapes up there in space on a day/gray as sadness." Then again, Wordsworth managed to become very successful-becoming Poet Laureate of England, even-by writing poems about clouds and pretty skies.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Q. troupe's Luminous Maturity truly speaks out in this learned, secondary collection of poems that draws from a wide influence of jazz/musical forms, politics, art, and the beauty and power of our own collective linguistics.If, as a reader of poetry and/or prose, you would like a generous sampling of Troupe's work, this would be a very recommended read, for it allows a sense of continuity, definition and recapitulation of Troupe's ever-evolving oeuvre to be sensed:
You have the presence of Troupe's brillaint immersion of contemporary thoughts/ideas with that of classical poetic forms: sestinas, villanelles, haikus & tankas - among them, a collection for the Point Loma Waste-Water Management Project in San Diego - and his literary musical/cadenced innovations covering a wide array of subjects from visual/sculptural art, to contemporary politics, to familial reflections/tropes and his speciality: forms attempting to emulate the steady pace and flow
of Jazz, especially that of Miles Davis.
Aside from some of the more lengthy, free-wheeling and boundlessly expanding poems, and perhaps from his (sometimes, but rarely) careless digressions into other lesser-known aspects of living and life, Quincy Troupe's poetry speaks with a resonance and clarity greater than the abstractions of most poets, and its
manifestions can best be seen through this work.
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