Heir to the democratic and poetic sensibilities of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bernstein has always crafted verse that responds to its historical moment, but no previous collection of his poems so specifically addresses the events of its time as Girly Man, which features works written on the evening of September 11, 2001, and in response to the war in Iraq. Here, Bernstein speaks out, combining self-deprecating humor with incisive philosophical and political thinking.
Composed of works of very different forms and moods—etchings from moments of acute crisis, comic excursions, formal excavations, confrontations with the cultural illogics of contemporary political consciousness—the poems work as an ensemble, each part contributing something necessary to an unrealizable and unrepresentable whole.
A passionate defense of contingency, resistance, and multiplicity, Girly Man is a provocative and aesthetically challenging collection of radical verse from one of America’s most controversial poets.
“A major achievement. . . . Anyone interested in contemporary poetry should seek out the collection, if only to read one of our most provocative poet-critics writing his most engaging poems to date.”—Thomas Devaney, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Charles Bernstein writes both prose and poetry about poetry, sometimes brilliantly, in ways calculated to upset the middlebrow and thwart the bland. The more you like the poetic equivalent of a nice tune, easy to hum, the more Bernstein means to disrupt your complacency.”—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post
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 clich s 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 2006 Reed Business Information.