Benjamin Friedlander speaks with ungainsayable clarity of what we had thought to forget
Is melancholy good? I think Ben Friedlander has the moodiest ear for it in the field, and wit to match. Where he takes this immodest gift is to a tangled interstice where idiom intersects with the body’s fault lines. Uncannily the reader has almost had these thoughts. The attraction feels sideways, vertiginous. We receive, with these poems, the shapeliness of tact. Then suddenly he shows us the tax we pay to Rome
As a poet, scholar, editor, and translator, Benjamin Friedlander has dedicated more than half a lifetime to rigorously engaging with the concepts and practices of contemporary poetry, and this much-wished-for book provides a beginning survey of that commitment. Gathered here are poems from the first ten years of his wide-ranging, critically probing, and intellectually ambitious poetic project. This book will amaze, defy, and remind again how not to be made complacent by what poetry offers
In his earliest books of poetry, collected here from 1984-1994, Ben Friedlander constructed an argument–not simply an argument for postwar lyric poetry, but an argument for the relevance, even survival, of a poetic urge that casts its long shadow into all corners of art.