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Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin Friedrich Hölderlin, trans. from the German by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $24.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-890650-35-3

Review From Publisher’s Weekly:

Sublime visionary, great religious poet attracted to pagan myth and German poet of world-historical importance, Hölderlin (1770-1843) at the turn of the 19th century made his mark with Greek-inspired odes, intensely heterodox (and often never completed) hymns to imagined gods and real European places, and elegies on love. All these great works came about before 1807, when the tormented writer suffered a mental breakdown. Despite his importance to subsequent German poets (Rilke) and philosophers (Heidegger), and despite careful translations, Hölderlin has never enjoyed the U.S. following attracted by (for example) the author of The Duino Elegies. That may change with this ample yet sensitive facing-page version. Husband and wife team Chernoff and Hoover-both are experimental poets, fiction writers and editors-do best with the strangest (most clearly “modern”) stanzas and pieces of unfinished hymns, but also give fine attention to the earlier, more elegant works and to the naïve rhyming poetry of Hölderlin’s last years. Here is the Hölderlin who praised “The Poet’s Courage,” asking, “Isn’t everything alive already in your blood?” Here too is the poet for whom modern life is at once opportunity and abyss: “I approached to see the gods,” he wrote, “[a]nd they themselves threw me down beneath the living.” (Sept.) —Publishers Weekly, 8/18/08

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Saga/Circus Lyn Hejinian. Omnidawn (IPG, dist), $15.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-890650-34-6

Review from Publisher’s Weekly:

This pair of new long works from the California-based experimental poetry master (The Fatalist) makes a fine introduction to her current powers. Hejinian-admired in avant-garde circles since the 1970s-combines epistemological investigations with deft jokes. “Circus” is both prose poem and experimental, nonlinear fiction: named characters (Sally Dover, Quindlan, the talkative Askari Nate Martin) chase one another through short nonlinear chapters (one sequence includes, in order, “Chapter Two,” “Chapter One,” “Chapter 3 and Chapter Two,” “Chapter Between” and another “Chapter Two”). Sometimes kids, sometimes gossipy wives, sometimes circus performers and sometimes figures in a whodunit; these are characters meant to dismantle expectations, in quotable sentences and baffling passages reminiscent of Gertrude Stein: “Quindlan refuses to recognize anything as a digression, to take a suggestion, to accept a designation.” Less whimsical and perhaps more profound, “Saga” comprises 37 numbered free-verse segments: each imagines a long journey on a seagoing vessel as a figure for poetry, history, life. Along with Hejinian’s usual canny smarts, this newest long poem includes unexpected Romantic aspirations, with nods to Wordsworth and Coleridge: Hejinian, or her persona, says she “felt uprooted even/ At an early age perhaps from gods, my deities/ Were streaming/ Or grinding like a boat being hauled over stony ground.” (Sept.) —Publishers Weekly, 9/15/08

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check out these 2 reviews of Randall Silvis’ IN A TOWN CALLED MUNDOMUERTO:

review at PRICK OF THE SPINDLE by Cynthia Reeser


review at ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION by Paul di Filippo
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“Magical realism is a tough mode to bring off. Books in this vein can often sound twee or fey or forced or artificial. But the best magical realism exhibits a kind of reverence for the mysteries of life, illuminates the strangeness of the human condition, and entertains the reader with a tragicomic perspective. Randall Silvis fulfills this mission in his novel In a Town Called Mundomuerto (Omnidawn Publishing, trade paper, $12.95, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-890650-19-3). An old man named Alberto feels compelled to tell the same mythic story of his youth over and over each day to a fifteen-year-old boy (“. . . to allow the story its opportunity to speak . . .”), until the boy becomes a half-complicit bard himself. Alberto’s tale concerns Lucia Luna, the village’s most beautiful woman, and how she danced one night with a dolphin god in human form, and became pregnant by the visitor. All communal propriety goes topsy-turvy, and Lucia Luna’s life becomes threatened. Only the young Alberto, in love with the older woman, can save her, by accosting the dolphin-man in his lair. By turns droll, somber, reflective, rueful, and hopeful, this story speaks of eternal verities in very specific mortal masks.”

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