Friday, May 12th at 7:30pm
reads from his two new collections
When August Kleinzahler won the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize, the judges’ citation referred to his work as “ferociously on the move, between locations, between forms, between registers.” They might also have said “between New Jersey and San Francisco,” the homes between which Kleinzahler has spent his life traveling, both on the road and on the page.
Before Dawn on Bluff Road collects the best of Kleinzahler’s New Jersey poems. Like the landscapes they inhabit, they are by turns rocky and elegant, abandoned and teeming, absurd and deeply poignant. Hollyhocks in the Fog collects the best of his San Francisco poems. They show the poet
in an expansive, incandescent mode, the lover of French poetry and Looney Tunes, of Chinese
food and the lonesome hills.
Providing readers with a gorgeous guide to Kleinzahler’s interior geography, this doubled collection functions as both a map and an anatomy of the lifelong passions and preoccupations of one
of our greatest poets.
Sallies, Romps, Portraits, and Send-Offs gathers the best of sixteen years’ worth of Kleinzahler’s short prose—essays, eulogies, and reviews—into one trenchant collection, setting down his thoughts on poets both excellent and otherwise, on kvetching fiction writers and homicidal fiddlers, on unassuming geniuses and discerning nobodies, always with insight, always with humor, and never suffering fools gladly.
Acknowledged greats such as James Schuyler, Basil Bunting, and Lorine Niedecker and neglected masters such as short-story writer Lucia Berlin and critic Kenneth Cox get their due. Remembrances of Thom Gunn, Christopher Middleton, and Leonard Michaels guide the reader through the prickly process of remaining friends with world-class writers without letting them take too much advantage of you. Finally, in miniature memoirs that resemble poems in embryo, Kleinzahler turns the spotlight on himself. Mixing serious analyses with off-kilter personal insights, these twenty-four essays make for a delightful and essential tour through a treasured poet’s life and library.