By Reason of Breakings
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By Reason of Breakings


Title Details

Pages: 88

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 01/01/2002

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2341-1

List Price: $20.95

Related Subjects

POETRY / American / General

By Reason of Breakings


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  • Description
  • Reviews
By Reason of Breakings, Andrew Zawacki's first book of poetry, overwhelms and silences by virtue of its extremely austere beauty. In highly wrought lyrics, prose poems, fragments of apocrypha, and splintered efforts at song, this volume is forceful and haunted by doubt. Each intimate and restrained line is a glimpse at a wisdom that defies paraphrase, each image carefully chosen and constructed. Zawacki's language summons and invites and is almost menacing in its delicate intensity: "Weight is the syntax of filling empty spaces: scalpels and expired tissue fall, but fire rises to fever and sere." While pursuing an explanation for the disappearance of God and for the denouement of a love affair, and exploring the failure of language to compensate or console, these poems maintain their sublime power and elegance.

Zawacki combines the disciplined perception of a naturalist with the inspired perception of a poet. The elegiac and prophetic, the spartan adherence to specific detail, the vivid understanding of words as events, all recall Thoreau. But this 21st century author must grapple with a paradoxical idea of wilderness littered with petrochemical and astrophysical artifacts, a geography of the imagination where 'waves are stammering apocrypha and graffiti.' By Reason of Breakings is the work of one of our most gifted young American poets.

—Susan Howe

Combines verbal energy and fluency to a degree rarely found in first books. Sometimes it uses a language that suspends itself with such assurance that it makes a certainty of uncertainty. Sometimes it presents and erases itself in the same instant. Its paradoxes challenge experience, its truths are at odds with the obvious. Everywhere one feels the sweep of its cadences, its powers of invention, its amazing and subtle intelligence.

—Mark Strand

If the human soul could squint, the meticulously recorded landscapes in By Reason of Breakings are what it very well might see. For each of the poems in this collection evokes a setting in which the inner self seeks counterpart, confirmation, from a world that offers—far too often—little more than its own unremitting conceits. 'Dark be not dark but some other desire,' Zawacki proposes as his poems, deflective as light itself, shimmer, refract, and—with uncompromising acuity—emit a rare and eloquent luminosity quite their own.

—Gustaf Sobin

In prose poems and firmly crafted lyrics, Zawacki gleans the best from the worlds of the naturalist and the linguist, often in the same breath. . . . Most impressive in By Reason of Breakings are the poise and assurance Zawacki maintains through the breadth of form and subject and through the labyrinth of statement and un-statement, a sign of his skill and intelligence as a poet.

Carolina Quarterly

Zawacki leans into the uncanny, describes it exquisitely, and gives us a world that feel fully and personally engaged. . . . Zawacki reaches. He takes on the world and its pluralities with a generosity that is rare, beautiful, and convincing.

Antioch Review

About the Author/Editor

ANDREW ZAWACKI is coeditor of the international journal Verse, a reviewer for the Boston Review and the Times Literary Supplement, and an editor of the anthology Afterwards: Slovenian Writing, 1945-1995. A former Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, he studies in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.