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Mark DuCharme makes Best Poetry of 2013 at Writing The Messianic

Mark DuCharme makes Best Poetry of 2013 at Writing The Messianic


Mark DuCharme makes Best Poetry of 2013 at Writing The Messianic

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best Poetry of 2013

It’s not quite accurate to title this list “The Best of.” For one thing, I never start any year with the idea in mind to compile a comprehensive sampling of American poetry. But calling it “My Favorite Books” somehow lacks gravitas. And let’s face it, we all like year-end “Best of” lists. So this, then, is a random assortment of books that gave me great pleasure this year. I reviewed two of them,Imago, and An Ethic, and intend to review a third next year (The Unfinished). But unfortunately I don't have the time to annotate this list. Probably the most notable are the first three titles, which collect work long unavailable by some of our major poets. The appearance of the Ceravalo and the Lamantia are particularly exciting, while Bernstein's Recalculating is perhaps the finest thing he's done so far. Likewise DuCharme's The Unfinished. Alfred Starr Hamilton writes from a very strange and beautiful planet and GC Waldrep's complex music is a wonder. And someone really should publish Keith Jones'amazing meditation on Cy Twombly, sigh loop echo.

N.B. An earlier version of this post inexplicably omitted what, for me, is The Book of the Year, namely Robert Duncan's Collected Later Poems and Plays. Peter Quartermain's work editing the two volumes of Duncan's poetry and plays has been nothing less than heroic and lovers of Duncan owe him a profound debt of gratitude for his meticulous care and his, as usual, brilliant essays.


The Unfinished is constituted by movement and desire, by speaking that unsays itself: by knowing, if only provisionally, that the “energy is in the body/Blooming when we speak.” Not a bloom, but a blooming: this ambitious book unfolds and unfolds through the dual actions of pursuit and escape (“Is meaning embedded in fleeing?”). For here, to be finished would be dishonest to the Real. So The Unfinished is a veritable catalogue of deliberately partial poetics and metaphysics which alternately affirm and balk in suspicion at world, history, or word.

Ghosts of experience occupy this poetry, placing pressure on logic until it morphs into the assertive speculations that force new logics. Moving through a startling range of tone and formal shape, The Unfinished erects its tower of Babel, keenly attuned to “What’s still not real, but missing.” Mark DuCharme acknowledges that living means being continually erased and yet he has the guts and grace to proceed anyway, “To piece the language shreds/ into a body.” His poetry enters our own breath, blooming.

—Elizabeth Robinson

Mark DuCharme's beautiful poems teach us to read all over again: mystery, the situation of person, the texture of dream and the texture of awareness: The Unfinished is a tough book, a necessary book.

—Joseph Lease

About Answer (BlazeVOX, 2011):

"DuCharme spins and alters the music of his lyrics in as varied a way as any lyric poet working at the moment, without ever losing their basic melodicism.... DuCharme is neither a writer of conventional lyric phrasing and imagery, nor of Stephen Burt-named New Thing minimalism, although his work sometimes veers in and out of both tendencies. The poems in Answer take more risks than most lyric poetry of the present day."

—Mark Wallace

"Like Whitman, DuCharme might hear America singing; he might hear America marching, but what he’s particularly good at hearing is America gone off key and become unconsciously discouraged.... What he hears is America too put upon and embroiled in irrelevance to bother trying to say anything worthwhile at all, which is a bad thing in a society that is fueled by dissenting opinion."

—Tom Hibbard, Galatea Resurrects

Mark DuCharme is the author of four previous books of poetry: Answer (BlazeVOX, 2011), The Sensory Cabinet (BlazeVOX, 2007), Infinity Subsections (Meeting Eyes Bindery, 2004), and Cosmopolitan Tremble (Pavement Saw, 2002), as well as numerous chapbooks.  The Found Titles Project was published electronically in 2009 by Ahadada Books. His poetry and essays on poetics have appeared widely. DuCharme, who has taught in the Summer Writing Program of the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University, lives, writes, works and teaches along Colorado’s Front Range.  He has also recently launched a Web site: http://mark-ducharme.com.


Book Information:

 · Paperback: 214 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-140-5





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