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BOOKS. Poems That Do Not Go Together

It’s been twenty years—a long wait that is—since the first collection of poems by Durham. Arguably, the wait makes the prize even more rewarding. This neat, white book groups poems spanning from 1966 to 2012, that “do not go together,” except for the arresting wisdom which underscores every line, every word, (and every space between the lines of words, tellingly), in preparation for the revelation encapsulated in every one of them.

The system of values, as much as the senses that seem to govern Durham’s reaction to the events is witty, dry, hypersensitive, surreal, and ready to call memory to the present. Some poems are drenched in pain, others are slightly upsetting; striking like a hiccup does when you get scared, or maybe shocked. (Or perhaps overwhelmed? or simply surprised?) Like having broccoli when it’s not the season (“One of the Worst Things That Ever Happened To Me”).

(Stefano Cernuschi)

“Poems That Do Not Go Together” by Jimmie Durham

Wiens Verlag and Edition Hansjörg Mayer, Berlin, London 2012

124 pages, € 18

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