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This Connection of Everyone with Lungs: Poems (New California Poetry) 1st Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520242951
ISBN-10: 0520242955
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Innovative, incantatory, politically charged and decidedly accessible, Spahr's new volume consists of two linked prose poems, "Poem Written After Sept. 11, 2001" and the longer, more ambitious "Poem Written from November 30, 2002 to March 27, 2003." Both efforts imagine contemporary America ("how lovely and how doomed") as a polity nearly (but not quite) capable of collective action; as just one part of an interconnected globe; and as a place of isolated citizens, trying or failing to work together, especially in the protests that preceded—and failed to prevent—the war in Iraq. Like Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Spahr's work suggests a wartime diary, though it's a diary that incorporates many rhetorical devices (anaphora, prosopopoeia, quasi-Homeric lists), along with many snippets from the daily news. In addition to two prior volumes of poetry, Spahr (Response) has published an influential critical study (Everybody's Autonomy) and co-edits a prominent journal, Chain, devoted to international mixed-genre writing. The openness, and the fire, Chain readers cherish also informs Spahr's smart, angry poetic prose. "I speak of those dead in other parts of the world who go unreported," Spahr insists, and "of those moments when we do not understand why we must remain separated." Addressing her readers as "Beloveds," Spahr returns over and over to "the unanswerable questions of political responsibility." If she finds few answers, she certainly knows how to ask. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"By listing, by naming, the atrocities--the harrowing stats, the scary particulars--in our world-at-endless-war--we might at least exert control over our sanity and extend our mind and compassion to others. It is a connected universe as Spahr so forcefully and powerfully reminds us. This Connection of Everyone with Lungs is a sustained and anaphoric meditation, a catharsis for our predicament."

"Spahr's sprawling paean to humankind is by turns spiritual and political, philosophical and practical. Few books attempt this sort of range, and fewer still succeed as dramatically as does this one. . . . Those who worry that contemporary poetry has lowered its sights from the peaks of previous epochs--opting for form and technique over the grandeur of the human imagination--can read this book and be heartened."--Seth Abramson"Huffington Post" (12/19/2011)

Spahr's sprawling paean to humankind is by turns spiritual and political, philosophical and practical. Few books attempt this sort of range, and fewer still succeed as dramatically as does this one. . . . Those who worry that contemporary poetry has lowered its sights from the peaks of previous epochs opting for form and technique over the grandeur of the human imagination can read this book and be heartened. --Seth Abramson"Huffington Post" (12/19/2011)"
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Product Details

  • Series: New California Poetry (Book 15)
  • Paperback: 86 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520242955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520242951
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy P. Bushnell on April 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
We can get a sense of the grand, encompassing scope of this book from its title alone, a phrase drawn from the opening poem: "Poem Written After September 11, 2001." This poem's central task is to articulate the model of radical interconnectedness upon which the rest of the book depends. Over its eight pages it performs this task through what essentially amounts to a slow zoom-out, from the microscopic level ("cells, the movement of cells and the division of cells") all the way out to global scope ("the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands"). To call oneself a "global citizen" is slightly pollyanna-ish, but this poem still functions as a lovely vision: the way it is made elegiac by its positioning as a "post-9/11" poem feels slightly predictable, but that makes the elegy no less real. One of the more "important" poems in recent memory (let's set aside, for now, the question of whether poetry should aspire to importance).

More interesting and important still is the book's remainder, a single long poem (broken into discrete chunks), entitled "Poem Written From November 30, 2002, to March 27, 2003." I think this poem is more interesting because it's doing the thornier work of dealing with the consequences of the first poem: if "everyone with lungs" is connected in a "lovely [and] doomed" global matrix, then what does this mean? If we can successfully expand our consciousness to the point where it encompasses the whole earth as a system, then what does it mean when part of that system (including but not limited to "our part") is attempting to kill another part of that system (including but not limited to "their part")?
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Format: Paperback
This is a manic and expansive book of poetry--Spahr will start a poem and she seems to mad-dash through its implications and twists. It has an incantatory quality as well reminding one of Stein. The book starts with "Poem Written After Sept. 11, 2001" and the longer "Poem Written from November 30, 2002 to March 27, 2003" which build on a politics and poetics of dealing with ones space in a political and natural environment which seems beyond the individual. The latter poem is the majority of the book, and spans several dates. Spahr seems to re wrestling with the radical alienation that ironically emerges from the realization of radical connectedness. The book leaves one a bit breathless at the end, and while some areas seem some steeped in formal rhetoric that it reads polemically, the effect is largely effective.
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A non-brittle response to and reflection upon the individual's place and culpability within larger systems and events. Stunningly told with a ghost-heart: at once scary and vulnerable.
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All I can say is wow. Spahr's poetry is so moving; in turns bringing awareness to the conflicts of life and sad state of humanity, then lighting that flicker of hope for the future.
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