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Armies of Compassion

Longer I Wait, More You Love Me

One

The Shunt

Disaster Suites

Dear Dearly Departed

Landscapes of Dissent

The Straits

Syria Is in the World

Currency

Political Cactus Poems

Armies of Compassion Disaster Suites

Rob Halpern

Poetry | 2009 | 78 pages | $15.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9789262-6-7

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A paradox sets these disquieting and beautiful Disaster Suites into motion. They produce a music—missing in the count now counts as one—reaching for the disappearance of the very conditions that make it audible: war, so-called natural catastrophe, a public sphere where there is no / Public. As in the songs of William Blake and the sci-fi novels of Octavia Butler, these Suites sing against their own beauty and their seemingly perpetual present—which is why they seem so strangely archaic and futuristic at once.  In complex patterns of meter and rhyme, Disaster’s lyric “I” summons its own kind of “counting” (prosody) against the physics of finance or exchange.  Yet the music which results can only be heard—the drowned and the bombed—in between and against the other tracks that Halpern intricately lays down: the singing of capital, the burble of mass media, the daily noise of bodies who work, shit, fuck, and love.  This stunning book has almost single-handedly made me love contemporary lyric poetry again.

— Sianne Ngai


Rob Halpern is the author of Rumored Place (Krupskaya 2004) and Disaster Suite (Vigilance Society 2006). His poems, short fiction, criticism, and translations appear in Bay Poetics, Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative, Chicago Review, War and Peace, Viz. Journal of the Interarts, Aufgabe, EOAGH: Queering Language, The Capilano Review, Submodern Fiction, and elsewhere. He holds a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

 

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