By Peter Richards
Publication Date: May 1, 2003
ISBN# 9780939010745 (5.5x8.5 80pp, paperback)
A found world of sense and idea, of time and movement, of the body and its secrets. At once sensuous and esoteric, these poems move between intellectual curiosity and emotional experience with a deft and compassionate hand. Through curving syntax and multiple voices, words themselves become fetishistic objects, ordinary lives take on a rare voluptuousness, and the relentless pursuit of the new yields a tentative, harrowing redemption of the old. Haunted by possibility and grasping after erotic and spiritual connection, the faceted world of Nude Siren confronts the physicality of language, and of ourselves.
Nude Siren reaches us full of mad austerities and wreckless decorums. Using descriptive intensity as a form of imaginative liberty, these poems come from the blast furnace of a new idiom, what “Coastal People” calls “a June-fed incinerator.” We never leave the world as we know it but are given it cracked and glazed through incantatory rites of formal elegance, gritty emotional longing, and a seemingly limitless verbal range. The force of these volatile lyrics comes in part from an articulation pushed beyond the combinatory explosiveness of surrealism toward a vatic brilliance, and their darkness is utterly convincing because it is so full of comets and scars.
Emily Dickinson tells us that “microscopes are prudent in an emergency,” and in this way Peter Richards is a glorious miniaturist. In their artful attention to detail and turns of language his poems remind us that love is constituted in the particulars. How his radiant and transformative poetry can do the hustle on the head of a pin and remain poignant, open, and true, is his secret.
Peter Richards was born in 1967 in Urbana, Illinois. He is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the John Logan Award. His poems have appeared in Agni, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, The Yale Review, and other journals. He is the author of Oubliette (Verse Press, 2001), which won the Massachusetts Center for the Book Honors Award, Nude Siren (Verse Press, 2003), and Helsinki (Action Books, 2011).
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