Winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Award: “A seamless merging of meaning and music...” — John Yau
“I am stunned, delighted, and moved by the seamless merging of meaning and music that unfolds throughout THE FUTURE PERFECT: A FUGUE. Whether made up of one sentence or a dozen, each section of this long, single work stands on its own, as self-sufficient as a painting in a museum, while contributing to the whole masterful gathering... Such sure-footed writing is astonishing. It would be an understatement to point out that the reader rarely encounters such piercing visionary states, with the author highly alert to sound and syllable, while focused on meaning. Throughout, the author probes our capacity for perception: what do we see (the present), remember (the past), and imagine (the future)? And how do we understand them? What elevates the writing even more is the unmistakable passion and urgency pulsing throughout each of the poem’s sections, the deliberate and inspired choice of every word.” —from the Judge’s Citation by John Yau
“IN THE FUTURE PERFECT: A FUGUE, Eric Pankey tells us ‘what matters is the miscellany,’ our ‘unkempt days loosely stitched to the next….’ Still, he’ll confess, ‘one could lose sleep making sense of the grab bag of all the this and the that.’ How can we not ‘project into the future,’ not ‘see the past as portent?’ he writes. ‘How does one avoid thinking about the void?’ One disquieting question follows upon another in this chapbook’s single polyphonic poem. In lieu of answers, Pankey offers us the pleasure of his ever-gorgeous music. From such a virtuoso, ‘these notes, these intervals’ are all we could ask for.”
“Comprehensive in reach and interwoven in structure, Eric Pankey’s THE FUTURE PERFECT: A FUGUE is an exploration of time and memory so attentive that time itself seems to be held in suspension as we read. From a slug on a stalk to the most subtle spiritual concerns, Pankey takes on the details of experience and the sweep of abstraction with equal grace. His meditations evoke, list, describe, investigate, sing, and more in a tour-de-force of all that prose poetry can do.” —Don Bogen
“The scope of the collection is epic—dance is created, the Minotaur faces the maze, stone tools disappear, Thomas the Doubter touches the wound; and ultimately the future seems one of vanishing, both for the earth and for the individual: ‘the murmur of ink drying.’ Everything is transitory; yet we watch the narrator visualize the here and now in bushes swamped in purple blossoms, a house on fire, an opaque sky, moons, pulses of rain, light in its many forms. Images appear and disappear, repeat and interweave as in a musical fugue, the impersonal voice questioning the simultaneity of what is happening, the unkempt past, memory itself. What is most moving for me is watching what the narrator calls the apparition of a body practicing presence. It is that hesitancy, that acknowledged effort—these poems.”
Eric Pankey, the author of many books, is Professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University. He lives with his wife, the poet Jennifer Atkinson, in Fairfax, Virginia.