Forget Reading

Shearsman Books, 2008

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"As in The Concerto FormForget Reading testifies to Anthony Hawley’s perfect vocalic pitch, the ability few poets have to find precisely the right 'note' — whether syllable, word, or echoing phrase — to give his densely woven and arresting imagery a true electric charge. ‘Shampoo too,' reads one of the ‘P(r)etty Sonnets,' "measures how clean the sentence is." Yes, and who else could get so much mileage ("specimen rays") from rhyming "maybe" with "garbage'? These are lyrics, not to read but to reread—and with the intensest pleasure."

—Marjorie Perloff


"The glibly ironic voice of these poems admonishes us to “forget reading,” forget poetry, forget anything less appealing to the (American) public than more and more news of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. “Poem can’t parade and no one holds it / up to the light or usually for too long,” it says, confirming poetry’s supposed inconsequentiality. But the poems speak up despite themselves, and in doing so they affirm poetry’s slight, subterranean power inside a culture of overwhelming and decadent ugliness, one made up of “the negligent droves” who inhabit a “never ending western.” Inside the beast itself, “a poem…/ does a thing, does a jig and slides / a circus of information / out the body.” Due to the very odds stacked against them, these beautifully moving poems enact a radical little protest, unheeded by the majority rule, yes, but also utterly unchecked.”

— Laura Sims