Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. At times ironic and sincere, optimism colors every interaction, transaction, and action absorbed into the mockingbird diction of MOSTLY CLEARING. This repetitive impulse privileges idiom and anachronism as means of indexing specific generational affects. Throughout, Gottlieb's speaker addresses three generations of poets: the New York School, his own milieu of Language Writers, and the younger generation whose artistic practice is situated by precarity, instability, and disillusionment. The speaker sympathizes with the latter, nostalgic for "all the swooning certainty of youth/ . . . here once it sprouted in all directions." In the end, hope is what the speaker bequeaths to younger poets as the raw material for imagining a new utopian art.
Michael Gottlieb is the author of twenty-two books including most recently, SELECTED POEMS, MOSTLY CLEARING, WHAT WE DO: ESSAYS FOR POETS, DEAR ALL, as well as MEMOIR AND ESSAY, the authoritative recounting of the early days of the Language school. He was one of the editors of Roof, the foundational 1970s and 80s poetry magazine. He was also the publisher of Case/Casement Books (1981-1999) and started the Last Tuesday multi-media performance series at La MaMa in NYC in the 1980s. A number of his poems have been adapted for the stage, including And We Will Never Speak of This Again, Mostly Clearing, and The Dust, his poem about 9/11 which was produced on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.