A Several World by Brian Blanchfield
A Several World
Poetry | $15.95
paperback, 112 pages, 6 x 8 3/4 in
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-937658-17-5

Winner of the 2014 James Laughlin Award
Longlist Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry

As in the title phrase—borrowed from a 17th century poem by Robert Herrick—in which “several” is used to individuate, questions of singularity and the plural, of subjectivity and the collective, pervade this dream-quick poetry. In A Several World there are glimpses of an “us down here”—in a city state, in a valley town, in an open clearing, in the understory—and, by various projections, there is frequent attainment of an aerial vantage, a supervisory perspective. The wish to be out of the weeds, to imagine one can see the thing in whole, and, conversely, the wish to be overseen, even to be overlooked, further animate the poetic shuttling between late pastoral and conceptual project. Landscape here is spatial theater and, blowing through like new weather, a choreography recruits certain standalone selves: solidarity beginning in an erotics of attunement, catching likenesses. “Pick me up can also be as frequency and antennae do.”

“In Brian Blanchfield’s poetry, ideas, as in his sequence ‘The History of Ideas,’ are constantly crystallizing into words and even letters—‘in the gravel was planted some grass/ in sprigs. Sort of Garamond, ornamental, it/ rounded down’—which, in turn, dissolve into thought. The oneness of our physical and spiritual life has rarely been conveyed more accurately. Blanchfield is a talent to watch.” —John Ashbery

A Several World situates us between the kissing booth and the photo booth, where the touch of the eye maps the dewiness of a boy’s body as it blends into an American landscape: seeing and longing to be seen. You must slow down to follow the thought in Brian Blanchfield’s complex poems, where image unfolds temporally, and thistle-like syntax betrays a tensed and boxed desire just at the threshold of dream—as if Eliot’s poetics of impersonality had married Crane’s cravings and knots. Quite brilliant.” —Jennifer Moxley

“There’s something miraculous about these poems, which have the igneous surfaces of the work of the Cambridge school but move as liquidly as, say, Auden; it’s what makes them poems of a world. In A Several World, the gracefulness and the complexity collide at least once a poem to give me, at least, a sweet painful glimpse of very bright light. I think a few pages in you’ll start to see it as well — as he writes, in a short riveting poem about the mortality we feel in dark rooms with lit screens, ‘In poetry too we all face forward.’” —Christopher Nealon

“These poems confront the world, shake it up and plug it in, through a rare braiding of language-loving rumination and sharp-eyed savvy, muscular traction and cardiological care.  The writing is deft, capacious, and brash, as the verses left us by the troubadours are deft, capacious, and brash.” —Merrill Gilfillan