Discover an exciting literary talent in Jacob Kahn, the Californian poet whose debut full-length collection engages with classical antiquity as a way to grasp our present moment.
Discover an exciting literary talent in Jacob Kahn, the Californian poet whose debut full-length collection engages with classical antiquity as a way to grasp our present moment. Kahn reconsiders the themes, characters, settings, problems, and structures of Virgil's Eclogues, insisting that the pastoral is political. How may an ancient court poet's musing about shepherds and dispossession sing to us relevantly? Kahn provokes, "lyric continuity is the provision of militaries." Don't worry, this book doesn't require you to brush up on your Virgil to enjoy it, although you'll probably feel afterward compelled in that direction. Smart yet chill, the poet forges intertextual connections with improvisational ease. Readers will find this an accessible conversation with a friendly guy at the bar who "can list the names of birds and trees." (And really, "what else would a true love want??") In poems with broad frames of reference, Kahn sharply confronts the technocratic blight of contemporary San Francisco, where "the processes of exploitation, in effect, dissolve into the landscape." Our fragile and mediated relationship to the land might prove the searing truth, "You can't hold what was never your ground." Like Virgil, when in doubt Kahn looks to his friends, whom he duly celebrates. The poems in Mine Eclogue attend to the idyllic panorama and lyric minutiae of life in the modern heart of empire. Engaged with a loose lineage of Bay Area pastoralism, these are poems of vantage and habitude, town and city, ownership and eviction, labor and liability, routine and pleasure, ditty and bickering. Roof Books is excited to be supporting the emergence of this important new voice.
“Jacob Kahn’s magnificent first book MINE ECLOGUE sings in the pastoral, or pastoral-ish, tradition of all that’s beautiful and fucked at once. But even the singing shepherds of antiquity were aware you can’t just write about cheese, sex, and weather—the lords are out there, plotting our diminishment. These poems address our current predicament with wit, despair, ecstasy, courage: there’s cheese, sex, and weather, but also ‘ash on the Prius,’ ‘vaping in a Trader Joe’s parking lot,’ ‘gravelly turds.’ Whichever type of pipe you ply, the poems in MINE ECLOGUE score our resistance to the fucked with range, intelligence, and music. I’m taking it with me to the verdant vale where we daydream the lord’s gory disappearance together, mapping beauty’s victory lap.” —Brandon Brown
Jacob Kahn is a poet and editor living in Oakland, CA. He is the author of the chapbooks A Is For Aegis and Mine Eclogue, and A Circuit of Yields: A Handbook for Giants. From 2016-2020, he was a managing editor, curator, and bookseller at Wolfman Books, a bookstore, small press, and community arts hub in downtown Oakland. He is an editor of the poetry chapbook press, Eyelet Press, and reading series, Islet, which he cofounded with Sophia Dahlin in 2019. He works as a freelance grantwriter and copyeditor, as well as at the Berkeley Public Library.