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In A View of Buildings and Water Geoffrey O’Brien collects poetry from the last half-decade, among them poems that first appeared in such magazines as Talisman, The Germ, The Literary Review, and New American Writing, and including a number of long sequences that have not appeared anywhere in their complete form. These poems extend a concern with mapping the geographies of dream, fantasy, and intuited history, and with finding a music that might realize those spaces in a flexible, responsive measure. In form the poems range from a monologue from an unmade film noir to a sonic sculpture where sense is made to follow where sounds lead. In “Heads in Limbo” a varied cast of characters is epitomized in a series of epitaph-like three-line poems. Central to the book is a cycle of five poems exploring the stages of grief against a shifting background of terrains both real and phantasmagoric. The book’s narratives – slippery, splintered, referring back to lost earlier chronicles – take their form from the mythmaking of ordinary life, the stories partly found and partly invented out of which we try to forge a connection to what has vanished and what has not yet arrived.
‘Geoffrey O’Brien’s poetry names and unnames connections, illuminates correspondences that darken again and almost dissolve in the darkness like mica flakes in basalt. The images and threads of narrative wink at the reader, but the beauty of the language holds irony at bay.’ —Forrest Gander
‘The precision and ordered intelligence of Geoffrey O’Brien’s essays are turned inside out in the dream landscapes of his poetry. The result is a kind of spectral tapestry where words and images are stripped to their own inherent valence and deeper codings the bedtter to hunt down resemblances and resolutions. The effects are mysterious, hypnotic, often breathtaking, and, I think, unique in American poetry.’ —August Kleinzahler
‘Geoffrey O’Brien is a poet of tremendous gifts and astounding, all-embracing erudition.’ —John Ashbery