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Cinéma Vérité Paperback – July 29, 2013
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About the Author
Sam Rasnake’s works, receiving five nominations for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared in OCHO, Wigleaf, Big Muddy, Literal Latté, Poem, Pebble Lake Review, Poets/Artists, New World Writing, Thrush Poetry Journal, Santa Fe Literary Review, as well as the anthologies MiPOesias Companion 2012, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Best of the Web 2009, LUMMOX 2012, Flash Fiction Fridays, BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, Deep River Apartments, The Lost Children, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011. He is the author of Necessary Motions (Sow’s Ear Press, 1998), Religions of the Blood (Pudding House Press, 1998), Lessons in Morphology (GOSS183, 2010) and Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press, 2010). He is chapbook editor for Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, has served as a judge for the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, University of California, Berkeley, and from 2001-2010 was editor of Blue Fifth Review. Since 2011, Rasnake has edited, along with Michelle Elvy, the Blue Five Notebook Series from BFR.
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a book of poems by Sam Rasnake
I don't know much about movies, much less film. So, I entered this collection with trepidation, knowing that the poems were ekphrastic, prompted by movies. My trepidation slipped away quickly, replaced with admiration and delight.
No ticket stubs are required to fully enjoy these poems. I'm sure familiarity with the films attributed to a variety of directors, domestic and imported, would amplify the poetry, make the references to visual and thematic content borrowed from the screen deeper and richer. But, even in my ignorance of all but one of the cited films, I was comfortably at home with the ageless material of human experience made vivid by Sam Rasnake's pitch-perfect language.
Film, really, is the elected representative of all art in this collection. The art of the poems transcends any singular medium, just as a great film transcends the flicker of 24 frames per second. The dominant themes are sorrow, loss, disappointment, the stinging pain of missed opportunities to love and be loved, and, inescapably, death. But there is humor, too, the splendid humor that can only stem from the deeply serious--read "Poem to Read Aloud While Positioning a Framed Sketch of Frankenstein's Monster on a Table" and "The Dead," as excellent examples.
It is good to overcome trepidation. It is better to do so and discover a rich and musical immersion in the power of language. Cinema Verite' is the best book of poems I have encountered since Matthea Harvey's Modern Life from 2008. It renews my faith in the possibilities for an enduring poetry in this otherwise dispiriting new century.
This understated mastery of emotional content and the beautiful use of language gives Cinema Verite its power. Plus it's a beautifully produced book that is a joy to hold.