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Girly Man Paperback – April 15, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cofounder of the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, from which language poetry takes its name, as well as the online poetics list and the audio poetry archive PENNsound, Bernstein is also a prolific critic and a consummate poet, as he shows again in this collection of seven discrete chapbooklike works. After the invocational four-poem opening of "Let's Just Say," the book moves to "Some of These Daze," Bernstein's prose dispatches in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and on to the acerbic intimacies of "World on Fire," which critiques clichés like "what are we fighting for?" "In Parts" takes up the serial form Bernstein perfected in the classic Islets/ Irritations (1983) to examine the pieces of "a world in which there are no narratives in which to believe// simultaneous double negative// flop flip." A fascination with the sloganlike rhetoric of Tin Pan Alley runs through the collection, culminating in the title poem: "So be a girly man/ & sing this gurly song/ Sissies & proud/ That we would never lie our way to war." (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Charles Bernstein's pairs of jingles of public discourse' are 'simultaneous double narrative / the space between's the other narrative/as if they're opposite.' In the space between, outside representation but in the presence' of it, we are provoked to laugh. Bernstein alters our language to open a double range that's public and mind at once and inseparable, that is 'Poetry is patterned thought in search of unpatterned mind.' "Girly Man" is "doing" it."-Leslie Scalapino

"Bernstein is . . . a prolific critic and a consummate poet, as he shows again in this collection."-Library Journal

"ÝBernstein¨ has rattled the chains in close to 30 books of poetry and three spirited and quite wonderful books of essays. At the same time, and almost coincidentally, Bernstein has come up with a bracing way of being both a very political and a distinctly Jewish writer.Girly Man is perhaps Bernstein's most approachable and focused collection. As a rule, his poems do not aspire to recount some experience that lies tantalizingly out of the reach of language. They have nothing to do with the tasteful matching of situation and epiphany...Bernstein's poems insist on their unsettled surfaces, on the way they patch together incompatible levels of our everyday speech, from the most vapid self-affirmations to the densest inanities of professional jargon. The basic unit of Bernstein's poetry is the exploded clich or the dislocated fragment of conventional unwisdom....Bernstein has made a habit (and a career) out of questioning modern American poetry's love affair with personal experience and 'voice.' Now that his critique is something of an institution, it makes perfect sense that this poetic kochleffel should double back and try a cockeyed version of it himself. In Girly Man Bernstein is stirring it up again and - he would love this scrambled metaphor - adding something new to the mix." -- David Kaufmann "Forward" (12/22/2007)

"Bernstein's latest book, "Girly Man," is his most accessible and rewarding volume to date....[It] contains enough entertainment and comedy, as well as political and philosophical insights, to make a strong argument that poetry can entertain us and address popular culture without compromising its value as high art."

"[Bernstein]  has rattled the chains in close to 30 books of poetry and three spirited and quite wonderful books of essays. At the same time, and almost coincidentally, Bernstein has come up with a bracing way of being both a very political and a distinctly Jewish writer.Girly Man is perhaps Bernstein's most approachable and focused collection. As a rule, his poems do not aspire to recount some experience that lies tantalizingly out of the reach of language. They have nothing to do with the tasteful matching of situation and epiphany...Bernstein's poems insist on their unsettled surfaces, on the way they patch together incompatible levels of our everyday speech, from the most vapid self-affirmations to the densest inanities of professional jargon. The basic unit of Bernstein's poetry is the exploded clich??? or the dislocated fragment of conventional unwisdom....Bernstein has made a habit (and a career) out of questioning modern American poetry's love affair with personal experience and 'voice.' Now that his critique is something of an institution, it makes perfect sense that this poetic kochleffel should double back and try a cockeyed version of it himself. In Girly Man Bernstein is stirring it up again and - he would love this scrambled metaphor - adding something new to the mix."

"Bernstein's latest book, "Girly Man", is his most accessible and rewarding volume to date....[It] contains enough entertainment and comedy, as well as political and philosophical insights, to make a strong argument that poetry can entertain us and address popular culture without compromising its value as high art."--Robert Hicks, "Kansas City Star"

"Cofounder of the journal "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E", from which language poetry takes its name, as well as the online poetics list and the audio poetry archive PENNsound, Bernstein is also a prolific critic and a consummate poet, as he shows again in this collection of seven discrete chapbooklike works. After the invocational four-poem opening of 'Let's Just Say, ' the book moves to 'Some of These Daze, ' Bernstein's prose dispatches in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and on to the acerbic intimacies of 'World on Fire, ' which critiques cliches like 'what are we fighting for?' ''In Parts' takes up the serial form Bernstein perfected in the classic "Islets/ Irritations" (1983) to examine the pieces of 'a world in which there are no narratives in which to believe// simultaneous double negative// flop flip.' A fascination with the sloganlike rhetoric of Tin Pan Alley runs through the collection, culminating in the title poem: 'So be a girly man/ & sing this gurly song/ Sissies & proud/ That we would never lie our way to war.'"--"Publishers Weekly"


"When we thought we had Bernstein pegged or that his work had possibly reached its limits, he emerges in "Girly Man "as a poet at the top of his form, capable still of the greatest modernist & postmodernist swervings, & for whom no form of expression is now entirely foreign. As with other poets of his rank (& that rank is very high), he has the ability to make categories dissolve & for himself, as poet, to become happily unclassifiable. From the comic to the archromantic, the avant-garde to the avant-pop, the formally constructed to the deceptively lawless, the personally political to the impersonally poetical, the poems in "Girly Man" are an example of what poetry can be in the hands of a supercharged & superrestless poet. Charles Bernstein is now more clearly what he has always been--a major poet for our time--& then some."--Jerome Rothenberg

"Cofounder of the journal "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E," from which language poetry takes its name, as well as the online poetics list and the audio poetry archive PENNsound, Bernstein is also a prolific critic and a consummate poet, as he shows again in this collection of seven discrete chapbooklike works. After the invocational four-poem opening of 'Let's Just Say, ' the book moves to 'Some of These Daze, ' Bernstein's prose dispatches in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and on to the acerbic intimacies of 'World on Fire, ' which critiques cliches like 'what are we fighting for?' ''In Parts' takes up the serial form Bernstein perfected in the classic "Islets/ Irritations" (1983) to examine the pieces of 'a world in which there are no narratives in which to believe// simultaneous double negative// flop flip.' A fascination with the sloganlike rhetoric of Tin Pan Alley runs through the collection, culminating in the title poem: 'So be a girly man/ & sing this gurly song/ Sissies & proud/ That we would never lie our way to war.'"--"Publishers Weekly"


"Charles Bernstein may be our most inspired formalist. He dares to look at all the things that poetry historically is not in order to fashion what it might become. In his brilliant new collection, Bernstein continues his genuinely unreasonable assault on the gentle reading public. Long live the girly man!"--Peter Gizzi

"Improvisational volatility, wordplay, near rhyme possibilities, frolic arguments, standup skepticism, loopy affirmation, accurate wit, restless ethical inquiry: I can't think of a better way for a reader to experience Charles Bernstein's fierce commitment to poetry as a necessary calling than to read this, his latest and perhaps most accessible collection. In this restless world we live in, Bernstein is one of our most radical and resilient voices."--Susan Howe

"Charles Bernstein's pairs of jingles of 'public discourse' are ''simultaneous double narrative / the space between's the other narrative/as if they're opposite.'' In the space between, outside representation but in the 'presence' of it, we are provoked to laugh. Bernstein alters our language to open a double range that's public and mind at once and inseparable, that is ''Poetry is patterned thought in search of unpatterned mind.'' "Girly Man" is "doing" it."--Leslie Scalapino

DIRECTIONS: For each pair of sentences, circle the letter, a or b, that best expresses your viewpoint.
a. "Girly Man"'s meanings are largely organized by luck or chance.
b. Charles Bernstein's intentions determine what these poems mean.
a. "Girly Man" is indifferent to human needs.
b. "Girly Man" has some purpose, even if obscure.
a. Poetry like this brings the greatest happiness.
b. Poetry like this is illusory and its pleasures, transient.
a. Overall, Charles Bernstein has been harmful to American culture.
b. Overall, Charles Bernstein has been beneficial to American culture.
(This written endorsement of "Girly Man" should be removed for inspection and verification.)
Jerome McGann

"[Bernstein] has rattled the chains in close to 30 books of poetry and three spirited and quite wonderful books of essays. At the same time, and almost coincidentally, Bernstein has come up with a bracing way of being both a very political and a distinctly Jewish writer."Girly Man" is perhaps Bernstein's most approachable and focused collection. As a rule, his poems do not aspire to recount some experience that lies tantalizingly out of the reach of language. They have nothing to do with the tasteful matching of situation and epiphany...Bernstein's poems insist on their unsettled surfaces, on the way they patch together incompatible levels of our everyday speech, from the most vapid self-affirmations to the densest inanities of professional jargon. The basic unit of Bernstein's poetry is the exploded cliche or the dislocated fragment of conventional unwisdom....Bernstein has made a habit (and a career) out of questioning modern American poetry's love affair with personal experience and ''voice.'' Now that his critique is something of an institution, it makes perfect sense that this poetic kochleffel should double back and try a cockeyed version of it himself. In "Girly Man" Bernstein is stirring it up again and -- he would love this scrambled metaphor -- adding something new to the mix."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Paperback edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226044297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226044293
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,251,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that I feel a bit depressed when reading Girly Man. Why? Because I know it's going to be awhile before I find another book of poetry this good, this funny, this original. Not all the poems work, but the best are far better than what anyone else is producing these days. The rest of this review is intentionally left blank.
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Format: Hardcover
Charles Bernstein's writing combines a scholar's discipline, an advocate's passion, a theorist's breadth, and a readiness to deflate everything with a good joke. In Girly Man, anything can serve as inspiration for a poem or essay: paintings in an exhibition, highway signs, and even war. Bernstein is among those rare writers who can perform their works effectively, and you can hear recordings of his reading online at Penn Sound and at the Electronic Poetry Center.
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Format: Hardcover
Bernstein is in top form. The influence of revolutionary poetics is apparent now across the internet, film, television and literature. Bernstein is without a doubt a fundamental contributor to these evolutions, and this book should not be missed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like it a lot!
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