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The Multiple
Calvin Bedient

2012 • 88 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry - American / Poetry - LGBT

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-66-7

Calvin Bedient's fourth collection, The Multiple, meets an unspeakably excessive reality with an unremitting intensity of its own.

Calvin Bedient's fourth collection, The Multiple, meets an unspeakably excessive reality with an unremitting intensity of its own. The "multiple" in question is the imbroglio of entwinements and failed copulas within us and all around us, the reality underlying and giving the lie to our stereotypes. Dazzlingly resourceful—witty, multi-tonal, musical, propositional, painterly—the poems thump the increasingly empty box of cultural goods, an inheritance that isn't really ours. We are left with a naked need for creativity in a cosmos whose gift of time is a gift of chaos. If in a universe that is "not-one . . . the rhapsodic is the avenue to the truth," as Alain Badiou says, the quality of the rhapsodic in The Multiple is as cacophonous and unforgiving as it is lyrical and hooked. The truth is extreme, this aggressively uncensored book says, as it battles to give equal power to a savage voice and a soaring voice. Strong in their invisible architecture, these are poems of wild openness and sheer aliveness.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“As if he were writing a universe all at once, Bedient stages the radical play of event and mind, catapulting us from child-terrors and transcripts of murder into these Capitalism will eat you days, as he fiercely imagines our moment, a now with more everywhere than here, a cloud of instants in cataphonic collision. This is lyric art that perforates the fog of unwitting connivance. The poet recognizes the indiscernible, and shakes us awake to ask: Is there enough chaos in you / to make a world?”—Carolyn Forché, author of Blue Hour: Poems

“Poem after poem, line by line Cal Bedient has grown more exuberant, uncompromising and unruly. The more control he can access, the more gleefully though choosily he can dispose of interference, any intermediary between himself and the moment. His forms are as multiple as they are true to their concerns; each is sonically on the mark and packed optically tight. “Socrates had his demon,” he writes “honk if you have a demon.” He honks every time he passes. It is the promiscuous disunity, the arrant variety of being, seeing, declaiming and discerning at which Cal Bedient so excels. Clouds are abundant and absorb some of the blows, blue is his color; the birds get better parts than the humans (credit where credit due). The nouns whip from lectisterium to upchuck; the inner drives swerve from being feathered with bliss to a collision with unfinished life. All gets “lusciously worlded up” and multiplied 16x16x16 times…. He leaves us “horripilating when things/ come over [us]/all peculiar suddenly.” What a lunge; what a rush.”
—C.D. Wright, author of
One With Others

“Sad scion of New York School's social estates goes on Jamesian Grand Tour; results utterly contemporary without a hint of hipstery nowism; conjuring profound loneliness amidst the lives of that great dead thing, culture. This is death's imminent irruption into life. Against this, a counterpoised coterie comprising friends and strangers and vitality itself, "electric with you, with you, pronoun so sweet and burning."—Joshua Clover, author of The Totality for Kids

From the Book:

Will technology kill the brotherhood of war? Probably. It is a problem.

Is brotherhood itself a problem? A love so strong it compels you to go
back and get shot at with your brothers?

Oh the beauty of brotherhood so sweet so painful

You cannot sing it it is heavenandhell

It makes fighting in a war a sacred thing though the war itself be evil

Inside is the sacred outside is the killing

Do you see that there is a problem here?

Bonding is a weapon and sacred

Do you deny that war guarantees this experience?

Do you deplore it?

You aren’t heartless are you?

CALVIN BEDIENT was raised in Washington state and got his Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Washington, after studying piano at the Whitman College Conservatory of Music. His first teaching position was at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He then taught at the University of California until his recent retirement. He has been a visiting instructor at Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A founding editor of the New California Poetry Series, he now co-edits Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry & Opinion. His reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Nation, Partisan Review, Salmagundi, The Boston Review, and still other magazines. His critical books include Eight Contemporary Poets (Oxford University Press), He Do the Police in Different Voices: The Waste Land and its Protagonist (University of Chicago Press), and The Yeats Brothers and Modernism’s Love of Motion (University of Notre Dame Press). He has published three previous collections of poetry: Candy Necklace (Wesleyan University Press), The Violence of the Morning (University of Georgia Press), and Days of Unwilling (Saturnalia Books). He lives in Santa Monica, California.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:23:39 -0500