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Joel Brouwer

Four Way
2003 • 66 pp. 6 x 9 1/4”

$14.95 Paperback, 978-1-884800-39-9

Joel Brouwer writes prose poems that walk a wire of anxiety through
contemporary life where "you realize you're naked under your coat, you don't remember a single line, and you'll have to go on like that, you'll have to go on and sing." And yet the pieces in Centuries are so various and unpredictable and startling, sometimes hyperbolic, often sordid. "The garage smells of turpentine and dirty magazines. The freezer hums with meat. You pour yourself an insecticide martini, scratch idly at your wart, and chit-chat with a cricket." Brouwer's universe, finally, as it springs and bristles with odd, nightmarish details and human voices, is able to circle back to a place of consolation where "A body has soft and hards parts, like a piano. Music comes from where they meet." In the end, Brouwer uses the disparate contingencies of existence like an instrument through which he can control chaos through art, through language.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"These hundred word 'centuries' as Joel Brouwer playfully calls them, are filled with an esprit of times lived energetically in language vigorous and forthright. They work as missiles, pastries, or treasure chests." —Andrei Codrescu

"Joel Brouwer's prose poems are like razor blades, sharp and flexible. It's an immense pleasure to be led by this poet's imagination, to be abruptly guided to all possible corners of our—and not only our—world."—Adam Zagajewski

From the Book:


The art in the museum, exhausted and damp, demanded solitude. We're tired of crying your tears! We hereby decree the purifying change and henceforth reject the trash! Now scram! When curators offered to compromise by admitting only the blind, the art replied by suicide: each piece became a mirror. Beneah a bench we found a photograph of Eva Braun and Hitler locked in a deep wet kiss. She's nude, milk-blue against his black uniform. He has a riding crop in each hand. We shoved to see. Such a beautiful picture! It had to be: it was that or the mirrors.

JOEL BROUWER's first book of poems, Exactly What Happened (Purdue University Press, 1999), won the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and the Larry Levis Reading Prize. He has received fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. HIs poems and essays have appeared in AGNI, Boston Review, Chelsea, Paris Review, Parnassus, Ploughshares, The Progressive, Southwest Review, and other publications. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and teaches at the University of Alabama.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:59:10 -0500