schiffrevolver

Revolver



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2010
84 pages, 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 inches
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1-58729-695-0
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1-58729-760-4
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"This book springs from an imagination and vocabulary so surprising and intriguing that, in many poems, every line is a revelation."—Publisher's Weekly

“Wild with imagination, unafraid, ambitious, inventive, stitched to perfection by a formal genius that recalls the quirkily perfect forms (and tones) of Marianne Moore, Revolver is a perpetual motion machine in which time, history, matter, and a profound tenderness for the made world knot, rush, pleat, unfurl.... What an embroidery, what a flawless understanding of gravity. There is not a poem in this collection that does not amaze. As with Worth—and worthy of being its successor—this is a work of profound daring, written by a spirit deeply aware of the ultimate cost of beauty, and the endless human thirst for, and dependence upon, surfaces—historical, lyric, material, and emotional.”—Jorie Graham

"I love that it is impossible to predict the paths of the poems in Revolver. Schiff’s footwork is utterly unfamiliar in its combinations—curtsey, kick, pirouette. Rabbit hole, revolving door, detour. Facts (from the tiny sugar pistols on Elizabeth Colt’s cake to the Chinese name for Asian Longhorned Beetles) have never been so faceted, so fantastic. And these details are matched—if not surpassed—by a ferocity of feeling, '…who would not kiss the head of a swan / just to try to memorize / the softness of something wild?'"—Matthea Harvey

As restless, reckless, and precise as the Colt revolver for which it is named, Robyn Schiff’s Revolver “repeats fire without reloading” as it reckons with the array of foreboding objects displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the traces of their ghosts one hundred years later.

A dirge on the Singer Sewing Machine, an exuberant and unnerving rumination on multipurpose campaign furniture, and a breathless account of Ralph Lauren’s silver Porsche 550 Spyder are among the collection’s exhilarating corporate histories, urgent fantasias, and agonizing love poems. The long, lavish, and utterly unpredictable sentences that Schiff has assembled contort as much to discover what can’t be contained as what can.

This is a book of extremes relentlessly contemporary in scope. And like the eighty-blade sportsman’s knife also described here, Revolver keeps opening and reopening to the daunting possibilities of transformation—“Splayed it is a bouquet of all the ways a point mutates.”

Excerpt: 

From “Silverware by J. A. Henckels”

Let me be as streamlined as my knife when I say this.
As cold as my three-pronged fork that
cools the meat even as it steadies it.
A pettiness in me was honed
in this cutlers’ town, later bombed,
in which Adolf Eichmann, who was born there
alongside my wedding pattern, could hear
the constant sharpening of knives
like some children hear the corn in their hometowns
talking to them through the wind.
The horizon is just the score they breathe through
like a box of chickens
breathing through a slit.

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