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This is Anthony Caleshu’s first book of poems. Divided into five sections, themes range from the erotic to the religious in poems which are as inventive for their images as they are for their form. Concerns with language and contemporary culture are at the forefront of these poems, which are alternatively whimsical and seriously subversive. Straddling both the anecdotal narrative and the experimental lyric, these poems are at their most progressive in two sections of ‘dialogues’ and ‘collaborations’. The dialogues make use of disembodied voices as each poem creates a definitive scene. The collaborations play on notions of otherness and integration as Caleshu collaborates with himself; bouncing language against langauge, like hitting a tennis ball against a garage door. This is a poetry that captures the fun of having serious implications. If American in language games and effects, it is international in subject and wit.
‘Anthony Caleshu is one of the best young poets writing in English. His poetry is remarkable for its velocity and quirky buoyancy, and, at the same time, its seriousness about cultural obsessions. We follow his poems’ logic and might at least temporarily believe we know where we’re headed, but inevitably Caleshu defeats our expectations, and we don’t in the least feel cheated by the experience. To borrow one of Caleshu’s tropes, our ways of making sense walk naked in these greatly satisfying poems.’ —Lee Upton
‘Title aside, Siege is less concerned with the life of the body than of the mind. Sex and the siren-call of pleasure are explored in a subset of poems (including the deft “Pornography: Director’s Cut” which alternates in tone between clinical and ecstatic), but the real energy lies in Caleshu’s riffs. When Caleshu takes a snippet of source material and lets the mind fly, his results are always arresting, occasionally spectacular.’ —Ellen Wehle, Agni
‘"You do not start out as an art thief. You turn to art/ because it is worth more than banks..." Anthony Caleshu's thematically surprising, daring debut is full of this kind of cool-headed reasoning, warped practicality and consummate creepiness.... Unsentimental, pervasively witty and ostensibly anti-poetic, the voices that populate this collection stand on the shoulders of recognisably American giants... Intelligent, imaginative, and mercilessly witty, The Siege of the Body and a Brief Respite is a rewarding and extraordinary debut.’ —Aingeal Clare, Poetry Ireland Review
‘It is a book with an overall design into which stand-alone poems have been fitted. It is both an unconventional book with alternating sections "The Siege of the Body", "A Brief Respite", and a conventional one of poems written as necessity and inspiration demanded. Caleshu wants it both ways, which is a risk worth taking.’ —William Corbett, Poetry Review
‘Caleshu contributes a drastically detached voice at odds with the formal conservatism of much Irish verse, past and present. His place in the anthology floats the notion that real aesthetic change is, if not imported, then washed ashore.'’ —The Times