Poetry. Composed over the last decade, MY TRANQUIL WAR AND OTHER POEMS tackles head-on the response of the poet in a time of great political turmoil. What is the poet's special responsibility? When terror becomes a general condition of dread, internalized to the last degree, even beauty and truth assume grotesque masks. The poet surveys the breakage of culture, occurring both retrospectively and in the present, and is left speechless—and potentially harmless. No one is exempt from the brutality, there are no excuses. The danger for poetry in such times is that it can become slave to technique and self-worship, in love with its own grandiosity. Thus these poems, written in a remarkable variety of forms—from traditional sonnets to experiments in found poetry—constantly rub up against self-limitation, and in that effort alone, the desire to discover a voice appropriate for the times, turn what could have been relentless elegy into an often transcendent sphere of holiness and refuge. There are, after all, beauty and truth, in the expected places; to plunge after them, one only needs all the arsenal of past culture, although the baggage may well be disposable and contingent. The poet's fate, it turns out, is a central determinant, a surefire clue to the future, as empire relentlessly falls apart, past illusions shatter, dreams fail to suffice, and a new humanity emerges, almost against its will. The fiery apocalypse of the soul, negated at its core, at a time when the public and the private merge like inseparable warring twins, is what MY TRANQUIL WAR AND OTHER POEMS tries to capture, in poetry carefully treading the fault lines of sacredness, when nothing is labeled as such.
"Anis Shivani's writing seeks sanctuary by looking poetry and its makers (and a stray president to boot) squarely in the face."—Eileen Myles
"I sense everywhere an undercurrent of compassion and identification, a poignant humanity and sense of responsibility underneath the torrential voice of his book."—Franz Wright
Author City: HOUSTON, TX USA
Anis Shivani is a poet, fiction writer, and critic in Houston, Texas. His books are Anatolia and Other Stories (Black Lawrence Press, 2009), Against the Workshop: Provocations, Polemics, Controversies (Texas Review Press, 2011), MY TRANQUIL WAR AND OTHER POEMS (NYQ Books, 2012), and THE FIFTH LASH AND OTHER STORIES (C&R Press, 2012). He has also finished a novel, Karachi Raj, and is at work on another, Abruzzi, 1936. His work appears in New York Quarterly, Georgia Review, Southwest Review, Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Threepenny Review, Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Agni, DENVER QUARTERLY, and many other journals. A Pushcart Prize winner, he studied economics at Harvard College. A second poetry book is in progress.
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