Albany , published in 1981, as his autobiography."/>

UNDER ALBANY

Ron Silliman, Author . Salt $14.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-84471-051-5

One of the major language poets (and now an ardent poetry blogger), Silliman has previously referred to his poem Albany , published in 1981, as his autobiography. Here he uses the spare sentences of that language-era work as starting points for yet another round of self-fashioning. The book closes with the sentence "It is not possible to 'describe a life,' "; what Silliman gives us is not descriptions of the antiwar protests of the late '60s, his various living arrangements or childhood in working-class California, but the infinitely branching chains of event and idea of which a life is composed. When Silliman notes that the first lines of Ketjak were inspired by a performance of Steve Reich's Drumming or explains that his work in the prison reform movement has taught him "the sense of time as urgency without future," he does so in a manner, wonderfully particular to his work, that shows how process makes the person. Having recently completed his 26-volume (!) poem The Alphabet , this telescoping of life into language and then of language into further sentential florescence seems particularly appropriate. Under a sign of his own making, Silliman offers a brilliantly readable portrait of his poetics and of the places and times of his life. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 11/01/2004
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