Like Photo-realism in painting, these texts look deceptively like a return to representation until we realize that what is represented is already an image. They invite the reader to collaborate in investigating our notions of reality and, therefore, of language. A sense of melancholy (balanced by a teasing playfulness) pervades the book and gives it its distinctive complexity.
Tom Mandel books include of poems, including Four Strange Books (Gaz Press) and Some Appearances (Jimmy’s House of Knowledge). He was born in Chicago and now lives in Washington D.C.. His various jobs included heading the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University (1978-79).
“This book both attracts and baffles me. The prose works are especially distinctive, filled with a shadow play of strain about the oblique relation of language and reality. The cool grief-stricken implacability of this is distinctive. Mandel’s play with words says one can barely face the world of things, much less the world of language in which to try to reponds or record.”
–Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Sulfur
“The poetry bursts with an infectious desire to leave nothing out. Relentless excursions out of our familiar ‘monochromatic desert of grasp’ into the domain of discovery”
“The world, as refracted through the lens of Tom Mandel’s poetry, takes on the singularity of a new kind of order. His voice is fresh, astringent and altogether compelling. He is a dynamic presence.”
“Mandel is negotiating the passage that opens between Dickinson and Whitman … to explore registers of American English long laid aside by most other contemporary poets. The poems are both the philosophy as poetic composition Wittgenstein calls for and the American music of a particular time and place. Each of the poems is an annunciation, audible information, directive and electric.”
–A.L.Nielson, Washington Review
“a teasing tangle of semantics and poetics. While not readily comprehensible, nonetheless aurally sensible and diverting. A verbal romp for readers.”
“The part (or fragment) reverberates. In its reverberation, the heart sounds to the world; heart and world are held together in sound, in the vibrations of sound which is the vibration of correspondence. The point is not newness, but to bring us into the concert.”