Hong Kong Nile Club

August Kleinzahler, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $15 (112p) ISBN 978-0-374-52701-3
Kleinzahler's odd, enticing, deceptively informal powers of description, memory and offbeat contemplation have earned him plenty of fans in the last few years. Those excited by 1998's Green Sees Things in Waves will be happy to learn that the poet has been at work for decades, releasing poems like ""The Sausage Master of Minsk"" in chapbooks and volumes for Canadian, U.K. and U.S. small presses. Long-unavailable poems from those books reappear in this very welcome gathering, where verbal contraptions and slangy gizmos join forces with lovingly elevated epithets. For Kleinzahler, ""the Mind is a too much thing/ cleansing itself like a great salt sea""; ""the burnish of late autumn afternoons"" with its ""sadness coming on in waves is not round/ and sweet/ as the doleful cello/ but jagged, intent,"" like wind through a cracking-up house; and ""Lavender smoke from the Con Ed Stacks"" drapes itself over industrial ""monuments of clunkish whimsy from an Age of Boom."" Poems that look at first like impressionistic sketches or snapshots open out into subtle disquisitions; languor and alertness join hands in sinuous poems on down-trodden neighborhoods, ""greasy soup,"" snow, playing hooky and the sounds of jazz. A disarmingly off-the-cuff new introduction shows the older poet remembering travels through ""places like Vancouver Island, Alaska, Idaho, Montreal, Portugal, New Jersey, Manhattan and... San Francisco,"" and describing his British master Basil Bunting. Kleinzahler splits the book into ""East"" and ""West"": both halves show off the virtues that have made Kleinzahler one of the most enjoyable poets around. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
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