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Wake Up and Dream Paperback – May 22, 2017
The current dangerous political moment did not arrive all at once, though for many in the U.S. it seemed so. Others had been watching for a long time, reporting directly from the home grounds of injustice, inequality, and despair. As Wake Up and Dream makes clear, Michael Rothenberg has been one of those prescient witnesses to intransigent problems that history has not been able to sweep away. Often the poems collected here express outrage at eruptions of cruelty, as they should. Often they register with dismay events in which people (literally) got away with murder. The poet is angry—as am I. And yet, truth be told, these poems are suffused not with anger but with love. And, ultimately, love is the truth they tell and hold. Read this book, aloud; read this book in silence, to yourself; read this book again, with love.
“Wake Up and Dream”—so Michael Rothenberg enjoins us in this winning book. In a dangerous time, we can look to this poet for solace, humor, and good sense.
Michael Rothenberg is an acrobat of the drastic mood swing, from the self-doubter’s Gethsemane to the elevated cross of the Universal Redeemer. The marvel is that his poetry, at both extremes and every point in between, maintains a perfect consistency of clarity, wisdom and wit.
Michael Rothenberg’s poetry observes & rages, loves & despairs, gets tender, gets resigned, deals with all the emotive intermittence musically, makes big buzzing soundscapes of protest & short lyrics of dignified beauty have equal space, and looks to explore the world rather than reduce it to bites of judgment. The poems in his Wake Up and Dream strike me as written, imagined, lived, and built all at once, in time & on a remarkably human scale. They’re steeped in the emotional range and depth of an experienced consciousness working hard and long in that zone where the so- called practicality of linear representation runs into the impractical necessity of resisting that narrow take on reality by exploding it, visibly and invisibly, with ferocity and kindness.”
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- LAG (November 2017, Paris)