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A Several World
Brian Blanchfield

2014 • 96 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-937658-17-5

“This clever, busy, anxious, flirtatious poet, with his ‘predilections for predicaments,’ can connect anything to anything else."—Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review

The greatly anticipated second volume by an innovative and acclaimed talent

As in the title phrase—borrowed from a 17th century poem by Robert Herrick—in which “several” is used to individuate, questions of singularity and the plural, of subjectivity and the collective, pervade this dream-quick poetry. In A Several World there are glimpses of an “us down here”—in a city state, in a valley town, in an open clearing, in the understory—and, by various projections, there is frequent attainment of an aerial vantage, a supervisory perspective. The wish to be out of the weeds, to imagine one can see the thing in whole, and, conversely, the wish to be overseen, even to be overlooked, further animate the poetic shuttling between late pastoral and conceptual project. Landscape here is spatial theater and, blowing through like new weather, a choreography recruits certain standalone selves: solidarity beginning in an erotics of attunement, catching likenesses. “Pick me up can also be as frequency and antennae do.”

“The oneness of our physical and spiritual life has rarely been conveyed more accurately. Blanchfield is a talent to watch.” —John Ashbery

Reviews / Endorsements

"Robert Herrick wrote, “Here we are all, by day. By night we’re hurl’d / by dreams, each one, into a several world.” Where Herrick’s several is implicitly separate, Blanchfield’s book examines and contests commonality. That is, A Several World unsettles the world—all and several alike—by reading its associations and memberships and public languages with an unnerving exactingness. And, for all that, it’s a very finely-ranging travelogue, though not in the usual senses: “Consider the milieu durance,” Blanchfield invites as the book sets sail, and then responds, in the next line, to his own invitation—“Way out there now.”"—C. S. Giscombe, Judges’ Citation, 2014 James Laughlin Award

“One might miss, in the exquisitely shapely poems of Brian Blanchfield’s second collection, A Several World, how frequently the poems’ brash dazzle gives way to wit…[Or] one might miss, appreciating its humor, the book’s stylized (and appealingly stylish) intelligence, through which its poems can turn on linguistic self-consciousness…and gentle reorientations of genre… “One’s apprehensive / approach can be determinative,” Blanchfield observes, which could serve as an articulation of [his] process, as could his triumphantly deliberate description of a tortoise pulling herself toward a strawberry. One should be glad to be a tortoise to the strawberry of A Several World.” —Zach Savich, The Iowa Review

“For sheer joy in the music that words can make in the right order, one might have to go to Hopkins to do better.” —Matthew Ladd, West Branch

“One becomes acclimated to, and impressed by, the way [Blanchfield] transitions from, say, an etymological investigation of billiards terminology to the way his father shot pool.”—
New York Times

“In Brian Blanchfield’s poetry, ideas, as in his sequence “The History of Ideas,” are constantly crystallizing into words and even letters—“in the gravel was planted some grass/ in sprigs. Sort of Garamond, ornamental, it/ rounded down”—which, in turn, dissolve into thought. The oneness of our physical and spiritual life has rarely been conveyed more accurately. Blanchfield is a talent to watch.” —John Ashbery


Winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets (2014)
Long-Listed for the National Book Award (2014)

BRIAN BLANCHFIELD is the author of the poetry collection Not Even Then (2004). His recent work has appeared in The NationChicago Review, The Paris Review, and Guernica. He lives in Tucson, where he teaches at the University of Arizona.

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:23:12 -0500