Splay Anthem

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New Directions Publishing, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 126 pages
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In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey's "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and historiesfrom America to Andalucia, from Ethiopia to Viennain a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance.

Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey's new collection of poems, Splay Anthem, takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces. Divided into three sections"Braid," "Fray," and "Nub" (one referent Mackey notes in his stellar Introduction: "the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, the shrunken place the earth has become, planet Nub")Splay Anthem weaves together two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years, Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu" (though "mu no more itself / than Andoumboulou").

In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Mira painting, Mackey's poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dreamtime, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth's music, spirit lift.
 

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Splay anthem

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Three sections ("Braid," "Fray," and "Nub") continuing two serial poems ("Song of the Andoumboulou" and "Mu") that have been appearing over the last two decades here add up to one National Book Award ... Read full review

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User Review  - LheaJLove - LibraryThing

Most people are quite predictable. Creatures of habit, repeating repetitive ideas of normality, scared to step outside of the box they have labeled themselves. Most of us, are comfortable with our ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (2006)

Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida, in 1947, and grew up, from age four, in California. He is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, including Outlantish (Chax Press, 1992), and Four for Glenn (Chax Press, 2002); five books of poetry, includingEroding Witness (University of Illinois Press, 1985), and Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006); and an ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, of which four volumes have been published: Bedouin Hornbook (Callaloo Fiction Series, 1986; second edition: Sun & Moon Press, 1997), Djbot Baghostus's Run(Sun & Moon Press, 1993), Atet A.D. (City Lights Books, 2001), and Bass Cathedral (New Directions, 2008). He is also the editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthologyMoment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose(Coffee House Press, 1993).

His awards and honors include the selection of Eroding Witness for publication in the National Poetry Series, a Whiting Writer's Award in 1993, election to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001, the National Book Award for Splay Anthemin 2006, an Artist's Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010, and The Bollingen Prize in 2015. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches at Duke University, where he is the Reynolds Price Professor of English.

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