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The Revisionist and The Astropastorals

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"This is such anticipatory, massively omniscient edging work. It's a tone you'd expect a poet to hit here or there but Doug hits i... Lire la suite
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"This is such anticipatory, massively omniscient edging work. It's a tone you'd expect a poet to hit here or there but Doug hits it always and I don't know that he 'knows,' or his poem knows but there's a temptation as a reader to want to stay in it always. He's not saying it'll be okay. But even, not meekly, that there are patterns."Eileen Myles

"Crase looks at the city and the landscape with the amused, disabused eye of a lover. Revisionism, in his supple argumentative poetry, turns out to be something very close to love."John Ashbery

"Douglas Crase's dancing eye or is it ear, lost, restless, nervous, and insistingly singular, charges words with the task of unmasking the ordinary. 'The reason for love is / retrieval.' I can't think of a better time to revisit the poems in The Revisionist which now seem prophetic. With Astropastorals, his sharp eye continues to meticulously map the restless, shifting, ambiguities of the American scene."Susan Howe

"Thinking here has been arrayed with grace enough to belie its density. Crase's linguistic domain is at once tantalizingly abstract yet present and palpable. His poems are alive on the tongue while being read and even more so days later, as a recollected fragment surfaces unbidden amid the flux of thought."Albert Mobilio, Hyperallergic

"Crase renders the most familiar tropes wonderfully strange, these 'revisions' of a received canon proving as subtle as they are provocative: 'A century Begins,' he explains in 'To the Light Fantastic,' 'begins because it discovered/ The rights of man, or unearthed light.' Elsewhere, wordplay suggests an ecstatic mystery: 'The mitigation remembers the mischief,/ And nothing's repaired except to engender it/ Different. All things are wild/ In the service of objects.' This expertly framed volume marks a lasting contribution to American poetry."Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Substantial poems very much addressed to a listening ear, sometimes identified as a loved-one, and spoken very correctly in a language of description and abstraction with distinct and logical use of figuration."Peter Riley, Fortnightly Review

"For Crase, desire is a way of starting again, if not quite starting anew, and it enjoins another longing, or hope: that your strongest attachments needn't be your most appropriative ones. He dreamssometimes rhapsodically, at other times ruefullyof acquisition without possession, and the work he adores lives this dream as a kind of calling ('Anybody knows,' Stein wrote, 'how anybody calls out the name of anybody one loves')."Matthew Bevis, London Review of Books

"I had heard that Douglas Crase's only full collection, The Revisionist (1981), was something else, but I was still astonished to encounter its grand, cracked, almanac voice. The Revisionist and The Astropastorals (Carcanet), with a welcome introduction by Mark Ford, reprints all of Crase's published verse from 1974 to 2000. The Revisionist's 'sinuous, semi-abstract landscape poetry', as Ford puts it, evokes an America we are still trying to imagine today: 'What have we done? Is it true the English / Could have called Long Island as they did, Eden? / Anyway, if the seas keep warming up it will all be gone'Jeremey Noel-Tod, Times Literary Supplement

"For various reasons, The Revisionist has stood as Crase's sole book of poems for nearly forty years, and has long been out-of-print. Fortunately, it has just been reissued in a new edition by Nightboat Books, now gathered together with a more recent work titled The AstropastoralsThe new edition features a valuable introduction by Mark Ford, who reminds us of the 'exclamations of wonder from poets and critics across the spectrum when it first appeared,' from Ashbery to Anthony Hecht to James Merrill."Andrew Epstein, Locus Solus: The New York Poets

"Douglas Crase's poems are objects of profound and gentle beauty, both in their deliciously poised idiom, and in being monuments to the protean moments of a vast genera of life: civic, environmental, economic, stellar."Sam Buchan-Watts, The London Magazine

"That Crase's invocation of the Whitmanian poetic tradition can be so powerful after all these years of overuse and abuse is a small miracle of revisionism itself."Phoebe Pettingell, The New Leader

"Crase is the master of complex, sinuous sentences that twist and loop and unfurl in the most unpredictable of ways."Mark Ford, The Times Literary Supplement

"[Crase's] subject is America, more specifically the spirit of place, for he writes of geology, colonial history, Federal architecture and a variety of landscapes...Like Merrill's and Ashbery's, his writing argues sinuously, often subordinating sentence elements and juggling contexts in an almost baroque way."Charles Molewortz, The New York Times

"The Astropastorals serves as a reminder that the history we are brooks no conclusion, so it remains in continual need of revisionists (and of The Revisionist). Crase's first book is not, after all, a closed case, a done deal. We still need him."Barry Schwabsky, Hyperallergic

"The Revisionist is a lasting poetic achievement addressed to a once and future idea of a land driven by 'energies of terrible belief' and by a future 'hardly big enough for the past.' But for all the intoxicating urbanity of these poems in their syntax, reflexive mood, exalted octaves, panoramic desire, and no small feat of engineering, Douglas Crase's rare artistry figures a capacious refusal to plead innocence. Instead, a 'circumstance of invasion' haunts U.S. American memory wherein 'every road leads home and none is getting there.' Even turning to the cosmos from the standpoint of earth, money, and 'the law of large numbers,' The Astropastorals wonder moreover what it means to be a 'guest among stars.' In Mark Ford's superb introduction we meet again a poet of the day, an 'original and highly charged idiom' ready to restore 'the ebb and flow of belonging inherent in the idea of democracy.'Roberto Tejada



Préface
Preface by Mark Ford In his resolutely unimpressed review of Hart Crane's The Bridge of 1930, the critic Yvor Winters insisted that what Crane's poem chiefly proved was 'the impossibility of getting anywhere with the Whitmanian inspiration'. 'No writer of comparable ability has struggled with it before,' continued Winters, 'and, with Crane's wreckage in view, it seems highly unlikely that any writer of comparable genius will struggle with it again.' Notwithstanding this harsh verdict, the centrality of The Bridge to the canon of American literature is rarely disputed these days; and Crane's epic has served as inspiration, rather than health warning, to generations of poets who have set out to wrestle, like Jacob with the angel, with the legacy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. In The Revisionist, published in 1981, Douglas Crase established himself as among the most resourceful, inventive, ambitious and well-equipped of those attempting to renew and extend the Whitmanian covenant. Like Crane's, his quest was for a historically layered epic that would acknowledge the multifarious, often grotesque, betrayals of the ideal of America as hymned by Whitman, and yet not succumb to scepticism or disenchantment. I was a devoted John Ashbery aficionado indeed had signed up to write a doctoral thesis on him under the supervision of John Bayley at Oxford University when I acquired The Revisionist, a couple of years after it came out, in the course of one of my periodic 'research trips' to New York, finding it on the overflowing shelves of the intoxicatingly musty Gotham Book Mart (Wise Men Fish Here) on 46th Street. At a time when post-modernist forms of irony seemed able to undermine any attempt at authentic utterance, it was a glorious experience to ride the surge of the opening lines of Crase's title poem, and then to realize that the emotional uplift afforded by the poem's rhythmic energies was the result of no trick or gimmick, but of what Emerson called a 'metre-making argument'. Emerson famously rubbed his eyes a little, 'to see if this sunbeam were no illusion', while first perusing the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, dispatched to him with the compliments of the author; and The Revisionist excited similar exclamations of wonder from poets and critics across the spectrum when it first appeared. Here are a few extracts from the 'chorus of smiles' that greeted it: 'Crase has every prospect of becoming one of the strong poets of his own generation' (Harold Bloom); 'The Revisionist seems to me an extraordinarily fine book of poems, only the more extraordinary for being a first book Mr. Crase is already brilliantly the master of several distinct and identifiable idioms, all of which he uses to dramatic or comic or even shocking effect' (Anthony Hecht); 'This is the most powerful first book I have seen in a long time. The thematic title poem is magnificent, proclaiming the originality which only revision can provide, finding at a late time in parts of a twilit city the highest tales of our whole country' (John Hollander); 'The most interesting book of first poems in many years' (Richard Howard); 'A marvelous new poet deeply and absorbingly American, unfazed by the complex sentence of our past, and already parsing a future he will help us to live' (James Merrill); 'For sheer ambition, ingenuity and wit, Crase stands alone' (Jay Parini); 'That Crase's invocation of the Whitmanian poetic tradition can be so powerful after all these years of overuse and abuse is a small miracle of revisionism itself' (Phoebe Pettingell); 'This is a staggeringly ambitious book, and its author sets about his task manfully, with no bashfulness or false modesty' (Richard Tillinghast). It was no doubt a comment by Ashbery himself, used as jacket copy, that pushed me to spring for The Revisionist all those decades ago: 'Crase looks at the city and the landscape with the amused, disabused eye of a lover. Revisionism, in his supple argumentative poetry, turns out to be something very close to love.' Crase's title poem begins with an 'If' and it must be acknowledged it's an awfully big one: If I could raise rivers, I'd raise them Across the mantle of your past: old headwaters Stolen, oxbows high and dry while new ones form, A sediment of history rearranged. Nevertheless, despite the hypothetical manner in which it is framed, the task the poem here sets itself is imaginatively at least a Herculean one, for its goal is a recasting of the idea of America that will change both understanding of the country's historical record and the prevailing sense of possibilities available to the contemporary 'American Scholar', to borrow another concept from Emerson. The suppleness, to use Ashbery's term, of the argument depends not so much on developing a logical sequence of cause and effect, as in dramatizing, in an original and highly charged idiom, the on-going processes of engagement and participation, the ebb and flow of belonging inherent in the idea of democracy or at least in Whitman's figurations of democracy. At the same time Crase is ever-conscious that it takes all sorts to make up a demos, and that poetry can no more escape the uses of language that surround it, the uses, indeed, that it models and mimics and shadows, and on which it depends, than an American citizen can escape the implications of E pluribus unum. In a fascinating comment on his prosody of 1987 Crase outlined his concept of 'civil meter', which he defined as 'the meter we hear in the propositions offered by businessmen, politicians, engineers, and all our other alleged or real professionals': If you write in this civil meter, it's true you have to give up the Newtonian certainties of the iamb. But you gain a stronger metaphor for conviction by deploying the recognizable, if variable patterns of the language of American power. And to say that this civil meter is a metaphor for conviction is to acknowledge that it, just like iambic measures, is a unit of artifice and one dimension of a form. The authority admiringly noted by so many early reviewers of The Revisionist has, therefore, to be insistently monitored and assessed, along with the forms of complicity that it entails with the 'language of American power'. Much of the excitement of Crase's poetry can be traced to the self-conscious interplay that it generates between the heady impetus of its rhythmic drive that is its meter and the civil awareness of 'artifice' that it simultaneously inculcates. Not for nothing did Crase study as an undergraduate in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton (1962-66); and clearly his day job as a speech-writer for clients ranging from Eastman Kodak to General Electric has fostered in him a preternatural sensitivity to the implications and cadences of public discourse. Only rarely, however, in a poem such as 'Experience and What to Make of It', with its italicized academic markers (Abstract Statement of the problem Materials and methods Results Discussion etc.) does Crase approach the realms of satire. His primary mode in The Revisionist is a sinuous, semi-abstract landscape poetry that combines topographic and historic and political perspectives that react with each other like chemicals in an on-going experiment; in its volatile instability, Crase's composite medium, held together only, it often seems, by his masterful syntax, is mimetic of his impatience with clichés, his restless search for new ways of conjugating our attempts to inhabit the past and the present, or to envisage the future. At moments the Whitmanian promise ('I stop somewhere waiting for you') is converted into the language of office-speak 'In every jurisdiction / And every area I promise I've already arrived'. Elsewhere, following the Crane of 'Repose of Rivers' or the Ashbery of 'Pyrography' (written in 1976 for America's bicentennial celebrations), Crase is drawn to dreamy, bird's-eye views of land and nation, as in the whimsical 'The Continent as the Letter M', with its nod and a wink to Wallace Stevens's 'The Comedian as the Letter C': To the soft soil of that consonant we return Made Massey-Ferguson fertile and turning over A train of little m's behind the plow. America America may be the grandest of ideas, as well as a physical country, but can't it also be eyed on the most granular level, in relation to the shape of its second letter, a letter that also happens to be the first in the name of a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment, whose ploughs, in another rhyme, make m-shaped furrows in the land? Yet M is also, the poem then points out, prominent in the names of three of the Native American peoples who fell victim to its European invaders Maumee, Menominee, Michilimackinaw. As in the 'Powhatan's Daughter' section of The Bridge, poetic stirring of the sediment of history may expand awareness and knowledge, but it can also induce guilt and vertigo 'Deep, past Appalachian deep,' Crase's poem concludes, 'The inarticulate lives in its hold on me.' The Revisionist's exploration of the concept of revision is sophisticated, wide-ranging and astute. It enables Crase to position his idiom in relation to his Transcendentalist forebears, indeed to create his own late-twentieth-century version of Emersonian rhetoric, in which urgings and images whirl dizzyingly forward, while the logic supposedly undergirding their propulsive movement keeps raising then ducking its head. 'Power,' as 'Self-Reliance' proclaims, 'ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim.' Crase's syntax is the primary bearer of this display of self-reliant power, 'shooting', as it does, 'the gulf' between competing idioms and ideas, and insisting or at least delicately insinuating that both the writer and the reader (at least once she or he has 'tuned in'), can be energised and boosted by the multiple transitions that the poem traces. Consider the time and space covered by this sentence, and the vision of contingency and of historical process that it parses: It's inescapable How history has targeted the tiniest, safest life With the knowledge that chance and power, unmitigated, Are always impending out of the godless distance toward it The way there is always a comet impending toward the earth And it's only a question now of how close and when, A recombinant message which has breached the world And altered the code so thoroughly that issues graceful once As travel or turning the calendar beget features of flight, Contortion and alarm instead. ('There Is No Real Peace in the World') The phrase 'godless distance' is itself a measure of the temporal and cultural gulf between Crase and such as Emerson and Whitman and Thoreau, and hence of the need for a revisionist capable of extrapolating from their belief-systems what can still be of use when transplanted to the disembodying networks and information streams of secular late-capitalism. The Revisionist, which came out when Crase was 37, ran to 83 pages in the original edition. Those not familiar with the contours of his career may be surprised to see that it occupies around 5/6ths of this Collected Poems. What, such readers are likely to wonder, has Crase been up to in the decades since? Well, in 1996 he published a commonplace book entitled Amerifil.txt that collaged extracts from twenty-three writers, ranging in dates from John Wise (1652-1725) to John Ashbery (1927-2017); these passages were chosen for the light they cast, directly or obliquely, on 'the nature of the national character', as the book's subtitle put it. Eight years later appeared Both, a highly original double-portrait of a pair of Harrow-educated English botanists called Rupert Barneby (1911-2000) and Dwight Ripley (1908-1973) Ripley was also a poet, an artist, and a patron of institutions such as the gallery Tibor de Nagy. And in 2017 Pressed Wafer issued two Crase volumes: a collection of Essays and Addresses called Lines from London Terrace (London Terrace being the vast block on West 23rd Street in which Crase has an apartment), and The Astropastorals, a chapbook containing 13 new poems. It is this chapbook that is here reprinted as the final 1/6th of Crase's poetic oeuvre. An acknowledgements note included in the Pressed Wafer edition (which sports on its cover a glorious portrait of Crase by Trevor Winkfield) revealed that the earliest of these new poems, 'Once the Sole Province', appeared in 1979, and the last, 'Astropastoral', in 2000. The idea of an 'astropastoral' is a curious one, and on inspection becomes, as Lewis Carroll's Alice famously put it, 'curiouser and curiouser'. Crase's post-The Revisionist poems set about applying his 'civil meter' to the cosmos itself, partly, one suspects, in search of some kind of escape from the corporate hegemony that has so ruthlessly determined the horizons of American citizens in the years since Ronald Reagan came to power (the year before The Revisionist was published), but also as a means of articulating a global eco-consciousness. Seen from afar, the whole earth can seem a mixture of dump and refuge, as the chapbook's last lines make clear, the civil space between them increasingly imperilled: and the study a species Must turn to is that earth Where the dump and the refuge are relations under the sun. Planet, sun, firmament, stars, space, heaven, the 'sky's brightest body', predominate in the semantic field of the title poem, 'Astropastoral', although I am not sure, despite its evocation of these interstellar perspectives, if it isn't also a coded love poem addressed to a charismatic but elusive hero-figure somewhat in the mould of The Leader in W.H. Auden's The Orators: Saw you vote with your feet and hit the ground running, Kiss the ground, rescued, and (this wasn't a drill) Saw you fall to your knees on the ground By the body of your friend on the ground And though these fall beside you like gantries, it is You who are rising above them and you are not there. Like a rocket in winter, I have been there to see you Logged in as a guest among stars Counterbalancing the galactic vistas opened up by the poems collected in The Astropastorals are less uplifting references to pollution ('Dog Star Sale'), ammo dumps ('Theme Park'), pipelines, landfill and wasteland ('Refuge'). Those familiar with The Revisionist but reading these later poems here for the first time will note on occasion a certain loosening in the tightly-woven mesh of Crase's poetic idiom four commas and a colon make up all the punctuation deployed in 'Dog Star Sale', for instance, while three of the book's shortest poems come to us with no title, as if they were odd fragments of poetic material snipped and stored for future use. It is to be hoped that the poems in The Astropastorals will be seen as more than just a coda to the achievement of The Revisionist. They reveal Crase swivelling his wide-angled telescope from the earth to the heavens, and reporting back eloquently on the infinite spaces that so terrified Pascal. 'Up slip creek in the dark' is how, in a quirky moment of humour, one of these poems sums up Crase's confrontation with the sublime a region, unlike America, which no amount of revision can ever make habitable.

Auteur
Douglas Crase was born in 1944 in Battle Creek, Michigan, raised on a nearby farm, and educated at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. A former speechwriter, he was described in the Times Literary Supplement as "the unusual case of a contemporary poet whose most public, expansive voice is his most authentic." His work has been widely anthologized and he has received a Witter Bynner Award, Whiting Writers' Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations for both his poetry and essays. He lives in New York and Carley Brook, Pennsylvania.

Texte du rabat

This vital collection restores to print and prominence the work of the elusive poet Douglas Crase, best known for his award-winning collection The Revisionist.



Résumé
MacArthur genius Douglas Crase is best known for his invocations and revisions of Whitmanian transcendentalism. Out of print since 1987, his book The Revisionist has still been enough in some opinions to establish him as one of the most important poets of his generation; on its strength, says the Oxford Book of American Poetry, "rests a formidable underground reputation." Now, by combining The Revisionist with Crase's chapbook The Astropastorals in a new collection, Nightboat Books presents his formidable reputation to a wider public for the first time in thirty-two years.

Informations sur le produit

Titre: The Revisionist and The Astropastorals
Sous-titre: Collected Poems
Auteur:
Avant-propos par:
Code EAN: 9781643620107
ISBN: 978-1-64362-010-7
Format: Livre Relié
Editeur: Ingram Publishers Services
Genre: Poésie et théâtre
nombre de pages: 160
Année: 2019