By Timothy Donnelly
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
ISBN# 9781933517476 (5.5x9 176pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
“This is an extraordinary collection—the poetry of the future, here, today.” —John Ashbery
Timothy Donnelly’s The Cloud Corporation, the long-awaited second collection by Columbia University professor and poetry editor of Boston Review, is an absolute tour de force, fully investing itself in the possibilities of language and intelligence—by way of a traditional and abiding faith in poetry—to illuminate the ceaseless advances of personal, political and social contingency.
Winner of the 2011 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Finalist for the 2010 William Carlos Williams Award
Omnivorous, fast-forward, bull-in-a-china-shop poems that deliver more beauty per minute than can comfortably be withstood. If Whitman had had a young kid and a Brooklyn apartment, too many bills, and a stack of takeout menus in the top drawer of his Ikea desk, he would have written these poems. This is my favorite book of the year.
Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
Donnelly’s formally rigorous and ambitious, not to mention highly anticipated, second book follows up on the many projects of his debut, Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Liebenzeit, and extends his powers in poems that encompass a wider emotional range...These poems are a strange and powerful force to be reckoned with.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
This is a book to be read from beginning to end. Not because the poems themselves aren’t individually striking but because this is a book that truly accumulates to something and gives its reader the great gift of being an active part of that accumulation, both critically and emotionally.
Gabrielle Calvocoressi, The Rumpus
Dramatic tension, humor, lyrical profundity. This is an utterly ingenious and proudly inclusive voice, incorporating clouds—you cannot turn away from it, just as you cannot turn away from “a stage in wakefulness” beyond “a door without mystery.” You are riveted—in the presence of the altered and yet absolutely accurate indication of a sensibility so urgent we find ourselves momentarily re-inventing the term Poet.
Carol Muske-Dukes, The Huffington Post
Ever since getting happily tripped up by The Waste Land, I tend to skip the end notes of a book of poetry. But those for Timothy Donnelly’s The Cloud Corporation (Wave) aren’t easy to ignore. They refer, among other sources, to Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, H. L. Mencken, Schopenhauer, Bruce Springsteen, Gibbon, Flaubert’s Diary of a Madman, and, in one case, to Osama bin Laden and the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies. None of this would matter, of course, if the broad range of references weren’t matched by the vaulting agility of the author’s mind. This is an extraordinary collection--the poetry of the future, here, today.
John Ashbery, The Times (London)
The Cloud Corporation toggles between the two modes of pessimism that Donnelly’s self-scrutinizing sentences explore: first, the private-introspective-philosophical, the poet lamenting entrapment in his own head; second, the public-economic-political, the poet sad to be trapped in our civilization. On the one hand, the attempt to conclude “a single, half-articulate drama/ about the self and the wearing it must suffer”; on the other hand, the attempt to account for “the infinitesimal portion of the blue/ planet’s mass that answered to my name.” Both attempts seem ultimately futile, and yet perversely beautiful, in Donnelly’s long lines.
Stephen Burt, Coldfront
Donnelly’s new book, The Cloud Corporation, is a nearly immaculate exercise in haute academic style, from its aggressively quirky titles (“Team of Fake Deities Arranged on an Orange Plate”) to its deliberately affected tone and pose (“Roll back the stone from the sepulcher’s mouth!”), to its frequently Jamesian syntax (sentences here regularly wind through six or seven lines). On top of that, we have diction borrowed equally from business-speak (“optimize my output”) and the vernacular (“I was totally into it”); the deployment of bizarre phrasing generated by collage (“a consistent sweat paragraph”); a mood of pessimism, anxiety, and unhappiness (“We revolt ourselves; we disgust and annoy us”); general distaste for finance and / or capitalism (“To His Debt”); and finally, a fundamental reliance on abstraction (“the sky again // the temple of the mind perceiving it”). If you were trying to concoct a recipe involving every flavor in the cupboard of the hip contemporary poem, you would come up with The Cloud Corporation. It is the epitome of Our Moment.
David Orr, Poetry
Donnelly’s book signifies a new maturity in American poetry, not simply a ripeness of dissonant affect, but a bold exploration of poetic diction. In addition, Donnelly’s rigorous, deadpan prosody intervenes decisively in the current impasses of poetic experimentation. The traditional stanza operates in Donnelly’s prosody like an Oulipian constraint; poetic form can be said to occupy the language like a stealthy ordeal. Donnelly is no stranger to innovation—see, too, his choices as poetry editor of the Boston Review—but this book casts innovation not as an end unto itself (as so often happens) but as a means to an end. The apparatus of experiment in The Cloud Corporation is subsumed by a poetics of allegorical expression: cloudy things (and artificial feelings) are simulated through the artifice of form.
Daniel Tiffany, Los Angeles Review of Books
The Cloud Corporation is a big book, big and sublime in that it inspires a kind of queasy awe. Its strengths are considerable, even as the poet dissolves the distinction between macro and micro to tell us how it feels to be all wound up with nowhere to go. But I treasure it in terms I rarely apply to art: this book is great because it’s true.
Ray McDaniel, The Constant Critic
Timothy Donnelly is the author of The Problem of the Many (Wave Books, 2019), The Cloud Corporation (Wave Books, 2010), which won the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove, 2003). His chapbook Hymn to Life was recently published by Factory Hollow Press and with John Ashbery and Geoffrey G. O’Brien he is the co-author of Three Poets published by Minus A Press in 2012. He is a recipient of The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award as well as fellowships from the New York State Writers Institute and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Director of Poetry in the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his family.