The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter
7.5" x 7.5", 40 pages, saddle-sewn
150 numbered copies
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“Most places exist only when you think about them,” asserts the opening line of Paul McCormick’s new chapbook. It contains three sequences, each of them thinking a certain place—a certain mood, a certain vantage of the subjective self—into being. In “Fish Tales,” McCormick richly re-imagines the Long Island of his childhood, divesting nostalgia of sentiment in favor of something stranger, brief moments when bright fish surface. In “Alternate Takes,” McCormick makes small prose towns out of familiar and unfamiliar objects: “The Turk,” “The President,” “The Automobile,” “The Shoe.” And in the title sequence, McCormick honors the 20th-century American composer Les Baxter, fashioning a richly lyrical discourse about the colonized and -izing self from the eclectic exotica of Baxter’s aural imagination. As McCormick writes in “Mombassa at Midnight,” “The crook of one’s arm is the crook of all arms. / You are bitten in your dream but smile for the dance. / The circle continues til dawn.” These are challenging, luminous poems, thought sublimated into a language and landscape of the deeply-imagined self. These poems glow in the dark.
About the Author
Paul McCormick’s poems have appeared in American Letters and Commentary, The Iowa Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Verse, Conjunctions, Barrow Street, Conduit, The Bitter Oleander, Diagram, Tarpaulin Sky, Typo, Octopus and elsewhere. He lives in Huntington, New York and works as a taxonomy and assessment specialist for the New York City Department of Education.
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