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Patter Paperback – March 1, 2014
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“Because bodies matter, name, beget and conceive, Douglas Kearney’s Patter exists within the stall, the break, the miscarriage in bodies bothered by history, blood and breath. What is it to father the inchoate and the ineffable that exists in the life of the black family? Kearney’s exquisite poems dissolve our sight, force us to speak aloud, and compel us to hunt and find within the illogic logic of our lives our lives. Patter is its own genius music―revolutionary, intimate and everyone’s.”
“In Patter, Douglas Kearney dissects several of the quiet and not so quiet terrors that stoke the worried furnace of our lives. These poems take a feverish look at fatherhood in particular and manhood in general. Because he does not accept the givens of what poetry can and cannot do, he breaks new ground, makes new lanes by which we might reach inwardly into our own private lunacies and outwardly into the grotesque confusions of the common world. Once under the spell of the sonic-semantic wizardry that pervades Kearney’s work, you not only know more, but what you’ve known before, you know differently.”
About the Author
Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in 2010. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Coat Hanger award, and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts."
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As the book unfolds, this all becomes a facet of a larger critique on the structure of whiteness only by way of the speaker moving through spheres of blackness as the poems of Patter at once utilizes and abandons the simple, traditional landscapes of verse and transforms them into complex cathedral-like structures symbolizing the mind, emotions & feelings—which becomes a poignant way to document speech & thought to render the pain and complexities of politics, race, sexism, fatherhood, miscarriage, & relationships, right onto the page. These poems are what it feels like to think to one’s self, especially when meditating on devastating terrain. Sometimes we must, “distract the crowd with patter,” so we don’t hurt so much or, in contrast, challenge and critique parts of the chaotic and unjust landscapes we’re a part of, “if evil here, who see it? / some see what sum get the get / of the once got. / if evil here, who speak it?”
Patter becomes a collection being torn asunder and coalescing until a self is brought forth, “I sit to work on me to work on. life is its own hunger for itself” (77). Anthony Fife says, “Patter is an attempt to reconcile the internal and the external; an effort to find answers when language and rationality fail, and our own desires become unintelligible, even harmful. And how, despite the internal tangles, we become what we need to become, and rise despite ourselves, to the occasion,” which I couldn’t have said better.