Aflame but Unconsumed
DescriptionTim Bartel has revolted against the mid-twentieth century rebellion which crowned "free" verse as thelanguage of poetry in America. Like Milton's Abdiel, the punk angel who "defies Satan to his face," inthis book Bartel ditches both the slack idiom and the conventional subjects of poetry. He writes scathing directions for "How to Destroy a Relic," a hilarious description of how to get a child to sleep, and a precise explanation of how to rehabilitate a G. I. Joe doll. Then there's the sonnet about physics and the sonnet about epistemology. In a stunning paradox, he argues, "The freest speech takes longest to be freed." You should read this; it is one surprising, smart book.
-Jeanne Murray Walker. author of Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking
In these poems, by drift and urge and wit, smart shifts between allusions to IT and antiquity create the tension of a springboard. We are invited to leap-to take the risk at a mid-line break-into sonic space: vibrant, conservative, solid, rebellious. Furies strain at the boundary of sonnet forms, charged by the certainty of meeting "a greater foe," one demanding and worthy of this art. Bartel asks, "What model of a cosmos would you have?" His poems assure us there's an array of possibilities in a "work that imitates the metered world," the one we each hold in our own "deep and chambered human heart." That's where the fire lives.
-Jeanine Hathaway, author of The Self as Constellation and The Ex-Nun Poems
Both empathetic and reserved, large in scope yet subjectively, and thrillingly, voiced, the poems in this book enter the minds of angels and apostates, soldiers and saints. They enact, with psychological acuity and compact language, the desire to live a bold and worthy life under the burden imposed by limited knowledge and the demands of the everyday. The heroic thus takes different forms, as when a father fixing a toy doll for his child notes, "A chest / Can hold that all in place." That "all" represents the ardor and hope that makes a father want to repair the world for his children; it's the heart holding these wonderful poems together.
-Chris Davidson, Biola University, author of Poems
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