cover image Hell, I Love Everybody

Hell, I Love Everybody

James Tate. Ecco, $17.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-06-330607-3

Quintessential poems by virtuoso of absurdity Tate (The Government Lake: Last Poems) are woven into a whimsical, rollicking, and utterly jarring retrospective that showcases an unparalleled mind. Tate is famed for narratives that are set in the familiar and develop imaginatively, even chaotically: in one poem, strangers invite a jazz musician to a lavish party, only to reveal that he is their annual human sacrifice due to his lack of contribution to society. In another, an applicant interviewing to be an ice cream trucker driver is told that extensive military experience is required. Elsewhere, a woman instigates a bloody fight at her book club, then gets drinks with her victims. The poet explores social standards and fallacies, the terrifying beauty of nature, and what it means to live a life devoid of poetry. Tate’s effervescent imagery assuages the heart: “It is late morning,/ and my forehead is alive with shadows,/ Some bats rock back and forth/ to the rhythm of my humming,/ The mimosa flutters with bees./ This is a house of unwritten poems,/ This is where I am unborn.” Tenacious, surreal, impish, and soul mending, these poems invite the reader into a transcendent world. (Nov.)