Reginald Gibbons

“Dead Man’s Things,” from An Orchard in the Street, selected for The Best Small Fictions 2018.

On An Orchard in the Street: “There is never a moment in these pieces which breaks the reader’s total immersion in Gibbons’ characters or those characters’ equal immersion in the singular moments of their lives. Here is truth so close to beauty and beauty so close to truth as to make no difference which came first.”  —Kirkus

On Last Lake:  “In his latest, National Book Award finalist Gibbons (Creatures of a Day) declares, ”’self’ and ‘soul’ ponder what has been.” From a ploughman leaning ‘his everything/ …onto the centuries’ to a boy recalling an incident with his grandmother, Gibbons does ponder the past, his and ours. But the boy’s memories are uncertain, the grandmother won’t mention hers, and if ‘not a millionth part of nature’ is plausible, it’s not why we’re alive but the experienced moment that matters. Hence the ‘catastrophe and awe’ that sum up paddling around a cold Canadian lake. Fittingly, Gibbons ends with by honoring Osip Mandelshtam, replicating his pinpointedly lyrical look at a world where it’s the ‘July light… [that] is holy.’ VERDICT Occasionally longish poems but always with a payoff; for all readers.”  —Library Journal

On Last Lake: “Gibbons brings a sharp, stereoscopic vision to the landscapes and situations he evokes as he is at once vitally attentive to the present and acutely aware of the weight of history. . . . These are supple, reflective, and striking works of conscience in which scholarship is matched by sensuousness, and gravitas is balanced by irreverence and wit.”   —Booklist
Slow Trains Overhead is a book of incessant crossings and intersections. Reginald Gibbons’s formidable trains resist expedient arrivals as much as they insist on fresh departures—from the present into ‘history,’ our everyday into ‘a different life,’ the elevated tracks and blind alleys of Chicago into the world. These are poems—and prose—that I’m convinced Nelson Algren and James T. Farrell would have loved—and James Joyce, Baudelaire, and Chekhov, too.”  –Robert Polito

On Slow Trains Overhead, “[Gibbons] chronicles the beautiful chaos of his adopted hometown, its furious pace and its powerful history, a history tucked into the creases between the great buildings like a love note left in a school locker.”   –(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune)

 

On How Poems Think:  “I’m fascinated by [Gibbons’s] discussion of the metaphysics of languages and the ways in which English, with its massive and particularizing vocabulary, enables different modes of thinking and feeling than, say, the Platonic idealism expressed by French. . . . Gibbons’s book is a bright star in the firmament of my current reading.”   Joshua Corey, Poetry Magazine

 

On How Poems Think:  “There are so many things to admire in this book: its sound analyses, its wisdom about art’s relation to the psyche, its pioneering work in making other poetic traditions comprehensible to us. But above all else, it is timely. Contemporary ‘accessible’ poetry is impoverished by its ignorance of the dimensions Gibbons explores. Contemporary experimental poetry is aware of them, but, shaped by postmodernist theory, it ignores their roots in the emotions and the unconscious. Poets of whatever school, as well as all who are interested in poetics, will find their horizons expanded by reading this book.”  Alan Williamson, Modern Philology

“Poking into cobwebby corners, weaving narrative into discourse, using assemblage, How Poems Think is a trove. I read it with a pencil — until I saw that underlining everything was the same as underlining nothing.”  Beverley Bie Brahic, Poetry Magazine

 

 

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