The Nightlife


by Elise Paschen

The Nightlife is not only a beautiful and inventive collection, it’s an important contribution to this period in American poetry. Paschen’s voice shows us how — given all the choices in form, voice, subject, and vision — a poet might make the art her own through the force of her personal brilliance, and a generous and idiosyncratic sensibility. In this work it is as if ‘. . . she unhinged every / window . . .’ These are poems you return to not only for the music and the detail — equally powerful through her wide-angle lens as under her magnifying glass — but to puzzle out how she managed it.  So much craft in work that reads so freely, seems to have issued forth so effortlessly, but also from some supernatural source, poems that read as if the poet were ‘. . . trying to put back / the wild fury she had released.’ This is poetry that reminds us of all the power and possibilities of poetry itself.”

— Laura Kasischke, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Space, in Chains

 

“Scrupulously crafted and deeply affecting, the poems in Elise Paschen’s The Nightlife investigate certain varieties of persistence right at the root of what it means to be human: the persistence of reality into dream, of dream into waking life, of the dead among the living, and of the living through time, precarity, and loss. The sturdiness of Paschen’s sentence structure, her almost architectural sense of musicality, and a gorgeous, Neo-Imagist attentiveness to sensory detail (‘Cattails flat against dirt: an impression of deer’) often belie, but just barely, the huge sorrow and uncertainty that haunt the work, functioning the way the banister and reliably regular dimensions of steps on a darkened stairway do — leading us, in the end, to ‘a surprise of light.’ The Nightlife is the most profound and consummate book yet from one of today’s most formally astute poets, and one for whom to give lasting shape to experience feels not only like part of the meaning of what she makes, but much of the motive to make it in the first place.”

— Timothy Donnelly, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for The Cloud Corporation

 

“These poems are finely crafted boxes that are only opened at night when the family is asleep. They are hidden under the bed. One contains dreams that were lost then found. Within another are the oceans of all summers past . . .. This collection, which is graced by the moon and stars, is Paschen’s best. As she says in a haiku: ‘I entered the room / of this life to discover / time had come to move.’ And we are here, being moved.”

— Joy Harjo, winner of the Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award and author of How We Became Human

 

Publisher: Red Hen Press
Pub Date: May, 2017
80 pages. $16.95
ISBN: 978-159090278
Available:
Red Hen Press
Amazon
and many fine indie book shops, just for the book.

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