- Series: Fence Modern Poets Series
- Paperback: 93 pages
- Publisher: Fence Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0971318905
- ISBN-13: 978-0971318908
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.3 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,410,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Red Bird (Fence Modern Poets Series) Paperback – April 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
In describing, in turn, a "Toy House," "Toy Bed" "Toy Enterprise," "Toy Election," "Toy Maternity," and nine separate accounts of "The Voyage of the Beagle," one might think Joyelle McSweeney lacks high seriousness in The Red Bird, selected by Alan Grossman for Fence Books. While certainly playful and relentlessly up to date (check the "Celebrity Cribs" poem), McSweeney's is a satirist's sensibility, wickedly sending up, in "Avian light," the identities and settings her speaker encounters, whether in books, "a maritime chart of the Yensai Delta" or "Afterlives": "Forsythia opens its bright palm and the woman pushes her stroller out of it."
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"American poetry divides into two hostile camps. On one side stand the 'innovative' poets, who trace their lineage to Charles Olson (the poet who probably coined the term postmodernism) and who like to experiment radically--and often rather dryly--with language. On the other are the 'mainstreamers,' who are more interested in emotional connection than theoretical savvy or linguistic play. Innovatives claim that mainstreamers don't think; mainstreamers claim that innovatives don't feel. But this quarrel is beside the point in the work of some of our best young poets. Take Joyelle McSweeney, a 26-year-old with a Harvard degree, two years at Oxford, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa's elite Writers' Workshop. Her language is innovative, charged with wit, energy, and surprise, but underneath the surface runs a mysterious current of real emotion... ...If it isn't always clear exactly what's going on in her poems, they have so much glamour and charm that we're led further and further into them--and into poetry itself, which always has been, and always should be, something of a mystery."--Jon Spayde, www.utne.com
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Top Customer Reviews
What delights me most about Joyelle McSweeney's book is its vigor. McSweeney's poems are filled with allusions (high and low), fragments of folklore, collage-effects, miscues, but also with direct statements and clear images -- a hearty, well-balanced meal. Like many other challenging and refreshing poets writing today, McSweeney uses all of the tools at her disposal, including an almost Boolean intelligence, to get at the confluence of materials that makes for irresistible poetry. While hybridity itself may be an ageless concept, McSweeney and her ilk are finding wonderful ways of ringing real news -- as Pound might say -- from it.
McSweeney is a smart poet. It is safe to call her an academic poet, but I want to use these terms with care. Where "smart" or "academic" poets might often be faulted for showcasing the intellect at the expense of the heart -- or, what we might call any number of other things: feeling, social consciousness, etc. -- McSweeney pushes on into the overwhelming catalogs of knowledge to the places where only the heart can save her. Thus, The Red Bird returns always to a seedbed of emotional and ethical depth. Some of the book's most exciting moments are in the cross talk between kinds of thinking and feeling, knowing and not knowing, hoping and dreading. The Current collides with the Ancient in McSweeney's world and into that storm goes the sometimes fragile sometimes plucky speaker. Likewise, the world goes into the speaker. Both permeations are apparent, for example, in "Toy Maternity":
Last year, like so many others
he bought racehorses on the bull market.
The darlings deflated
en masse. So I debuted
on next to nothing, one slipper
on the Turkish carpet,
half bustle and half wig.
The rescue vessel sinks itself
by filling its ballast tanks, slips
under the listing vessel, then surfaces
cargo and all. Therefore
he who believes in me
goes into me
and he who goes into me
The Red Bird is contemporary in all the best senses. While bearing the stress marks of an anxious and suspicious age, it uses anxiety and suspicion as vehicles to new vistas of credulity and good will. The Red Bird is a smart book. Smart enough to look behind appearances but also smart enough to make something we can trust in and from the late world's many surfaces and depths.