Hotel Imperium


Title Details

Pages: 80

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 02/01/2008

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3170-6

List Price: $20.95

Related Subjects

POETRY / American / General

Hotel Imperium


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Grounded in deep and thoughtful awareness, this complex collection of poems combines history, sexuality, pop culture, and political experience with edgy, wry, often absurd humor and an underlying penchant for the macabre. Rachel Loden employs both strict and innovative forms in poetry that explores the post-Cold War unease that follows a century of harrowing conflicts. These contradictory elements flower in poems drawn from the ethereal world of pop myths and fairy tales that simultaneously unfold a reality full of absence and mystery. Speaking as intimately of the fall of the Soviet Union as they do of the cinematic crimes and misdemeanors of Woody Allen or the redemptive passion of Little Richard, their tone ranges from the furious to the elegiac, with a comic edge that borrows as much from the gallows as it does from the Borscht Belt. As rich in rhyme, music, and literary allusion as it is in multifaceted meaning, Hotel Imperium presents a surprising blend of sophistication, playfulness, and haunting truths.

Fierce humor has Hotel Imperium, as well as a heady run in which Nixon and brassieres stud the trail; the whole century bends its tragedy beneath Rachel Loden’s clear intelligence. These are brilliant, moving poems—poems to read for pure joy and chills over and over from here on out.

—Susan Wheeler

Rachel Loden is not merely fashionable or current. She’s a late-century muse of everything valuable in poetry—voice, shape, gesture. Add to that a wicked sense of humor and a disarmingly fresh and penetrating eye for social and political concerns. But her poems are not political in the simple sense of the word. Loden’s poetry guarantees complexity as it charts new territory with assurance. Hotel Imperium is the debut of a startingly original writer.

—Maxine Chernoff

Steadily, with imaginative insight, humor, sarcasm, and irony, Rachel Loden looks at history. . . . In [Hotel Imperium's] corridors and rooms, Loden makes us confront many of the century’s still active ghosts. . . . Political in the very best and rarest sense of the word, Loden’s poems show us how to reimagine our (and others’) lives, with a vividness reminiscent of the "Commedia" . . . In sum: great, terrifying, insidiously beautiful work!

—Anselm Hollo

Do not be deceived: transactions with the Evil Empire recorded here are with a realm which will not alter the case, that intractable prosa mundi the Just Republic must contend with to the end: fools’ inferno, fools’ paradise. Our poet’s strategem has been to join rather than jilt her harassers, subverting from within. Daunting work, but someone had to do it—a good thing it’s this Loden woman, who has the strength of ten . . . syllables, never fear. We are inspirited.

—Richard Howard

She sends up late twentieth-century history, politics and canonical literature with a vengeance. . . . Loden is wickedly sarcastic, brilliantly ruthless—her poems are both deadly and a hoot.

North American Review

Ablaze with moral passion, hushed in fairy-tale bliss, or chuckling up to terror, Rachel Loden’s tight poems of intricate subversion are gloriously musical, alive to each scintilla of sound and measure.

—Stephanie Strickland

Pop and politics haven't had their hats handed to them in this Popian a manner in ages. Reminiscent of the acute fantasias of Susan Wheeler and Elaine Equi, though temperamentally closer to Connie Deanovich, Loden's poems talk about what people are (or have been) talking about, but with barbs hilariously sharpened. . . . Loden's first full collection marches smartly down the path of satire.

Publishers Weekly

No one else brings such crystalline language to absurd situations. . . . Loden uses an almost Talmudic sampling of verse and commentary to narrate a true story of falsehood, lies, and omission. . . . Information and real people are skewed and skewered in Hotel Imperium like they are in Dante's Commedia.

Chicago Review


Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, Bay Area Book Reviewers Association


Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, Pushcart Press


Ten Best Poetry Books, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

About the Author/Editor

RACHEL LODEN's poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Boulevard, Chelsea, New American Writing, the Paris Review, and many other journals. She is the author of The Last Campaign, a prize-winning chapbook, and her work is included in The Best American Poetry 1995. She lives in Palo Alto, California.