Publication Date: 01-Mar-04 | ISBN: 1844710386 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 144pp | Format: Paperback
UK Distribution: | USA Distribution: | Publishing Status: Active
Evolution of the Bridge: Selected Prose Poems collects work from Maxine Chernoff’s previous volumes written over the past thirty years. It features such classics as “The Last Aurochs,” “A Vegetable Emergency,” “Utopia TV Store,” “New Faces of 1952” and provides the reader with ample evidence that Maxine Chernoff continues to be one of the most significant practitioners of the prose poem in America today.
As Michael Benedikt, editor of The Prose Poem: An International Anthology, said of her work, “Underlying all of Maxine Chernoff’s prose poems is the possibility of magic.” Writing in the fabulist mode, she explores the bizarre in everyday life and questions the very rules of engagement with language, social norms, and politics. The reader is jolted out of his complacency by the lens of her writing. “If the world could look through Maxine’s eyes for even five minutes every day, there would be no need whatsoever for the pompous self-righteousness that currently spoils the polis. Her views of human life are wise and corrective tales that cure by correcting perspective” (Andrei Codrescu).
Her abiding interest in the prose poem has led to a collection that not only shows what she has done to revitalize the form but also where it may go from here. Witness the new prose poems in the section collected from World: Poems 1991–2001. As Rachel Loden notes, “The absurdist playlets-cum-vaudeville skits are some of the best fun ever vouchsafed to a poetry book. Each of these routines is a valiant attempt to limn the shape of human logic, a project that turns out to be both daunting and curiously satisfying.… What’s left is the spine of language and the rippled furrows of the human brain. And perhaps Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont at war in a sort of paradise. “ Ethan Paquin, referring to the same dialogue-based prose poems states that “these comedic scenes are remarkable for their transcendence of comedy. It is as if the speakers were engaged in the world’s final debate. The only question is `Which world?’”
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
from The Last Aurochs and A Vegetable Emergency (1976); The Moat; A Vegetable Emergency; The Broom; In the Moonlight; The Annual Picnic; High Rise; The Birth of a Chair; The Last Aurochs; from Utopia TV Store (1979); The Sitting; Toothache; His Pastime; Sailing; Water Music; The Fan; A Lesson in Cause and Effect; Fred Astaire; Top Hand with a Gun; Body and Soul; Van Gogh’s Ear; Hats Around the World; Phantom Pain; Vanity, Wisconsin; The Inner Life; The World of Ideas; Evolution of the Bridge; Subtraction; Kill Yourself with an Objet D’art; The Man Struck Twenty Times by Lightning; The Dead Letter Office; Rehearsal; The Limits of Science; The Fetus; A Definition; The Boat; On My Birthday; What the Dead Eat; An Abridged Bestiary; The Meaning of Anxiety; The Insomniac’s Notebook; A Birth; The Horizontal Brigade; Utopia TV Store; The Shoe and the City; A Sense of Humor; Anonymous Thoughts from Home; The Woman Who Straddled the Globe; In the Hospital; The Time of the Plague; The Stand-Up Tragedians; New Year’s Eve; from New Faces of 1952 (1985); Lost and Found; Biographia Literaria; The Smell Convention; Spring; Prophecy; Identity Principle; A Name; Sotto Voce; Sayings of My Distant Uncle; Miss Congeniality; Hairdo; Learning to Listen; Animal Magnetism; How We Went; Anger; The Edible Harp; Beginning, Middle, End; The Unzipped; from Leap Year Day : New and Selected Poems (1991); How Lies Grow; The Apology Store; The New Money; from World : Poems 1991-2001; Nomads; Beauty; Heavenly Bodies; Wearing Moe; Her Many Occupations; Guilt; Husband and Wife; An Epiphany; Killing Himself; The Method; The Sound; Wash; Uncollected Prose Poems; Five Possible Moments; Night Thoughts; The Heimlich Maneuver; A Valentine; Loving a Short Man; Simple Gifts; Origin; The Commonplace; Quizzing Glass; The Unbuilding
PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK
“Maxine Chernoff's prose poems share the metapoetic extravagance of the likes of Henri Michaux, Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. Evolution of the Bridge should establish her as one of America's great fabulists.” —
“Chernoff is a funny, invincible poet. Reading her is like watching the triumphant survival of wit and intelligence.” —
“If the world could look through Maxine’s eye for five minutes every day, there would be no need whatsoever for the pompous self-righteousness that currently spoils the polis. Her views of human life are wise and instructive tales that cure by correcting perspective. She is one of our best zaddiks. It’s the truth.” —
“… wit, common sense, an exacting awareness of the everyday bizarre, diverse personae, roots upended most tellingly, solid stuff …I haven’t laughed so hard since Kenneth Koch’s Thank You.” —
“There is no anticipating either the music or the logic of Maxine Chernoff’s poems. This is the reward.” —Library Journal
Maxine Chernoff is the author of five books of poetry including New Faces of 1952, which won the 1985 Carl Sandburg Award, the abcedarium Japan, and Leap Year Day: New and Selected Poems. Co-editor of the journal New American Writing and Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, she lives with poet Paul Hoover and their three children in Northern California.