The Devastation

An arresting lyric exploration of the performance of love in language



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Additional information

Weight .55 lbs
Dimensions 5.8 × .8 × 7.2 in

The Devastation, a performance novel or poem, is based on the fallibility of a single image: a sea-wreck in language, the lovers on the floor of the sea, a sea of poetry, current, currency, connection—the world. How do we value “impoverished speech” or try to find abundance in impoverishment? A narrative that stems from “an image that is never exhausted” whose affect pervades the function of the whole, The Devastation is a lyric exploration of relation and community.


Melissa Buzzeo delivers language from its hidden sources and outer fringes with extraordinary poignancy and precision.

ISBN: 9781937658250
paperback, 184 pages, 6 x 7 1/2 in.
Publication Date: 2015

“Buzzeo’s writing in The Devastation — as in her previous books, For Want and Sound, Face, and What Began Us — is incandescent. Dealing with loss, with the use of language as a healing practice, and with catastrophe (both personal and communal) and its aftermaths, The Devastation has been described as “a literature of encounter,” as well as “lyric exploration[s] of relation and community,” manifesting a “great capacity for openness” at the intersection of “poetics and healing.” In an interview conducted by Bhanu Kapil, Buzzeo demonstrates the degree to which writing is, for her, a mode of survival. Hers is a generative poetics of generosity (enfolding all of generosity’s cognates, including “gender,” “genre,” “generation,” and “gentle”); she approaches truths, passionately and directly, as large philosophical questions.

Much beautiful writing has already greeted the beautiful writing in this book. Critics have praised and paraphrased, grasping the high stakes of the project and casting it in broader contexts. What’s left for me to say? In fact, this “left to say” is the conundrum of the book, but for reasons other than the one I’m facing here. The Devastation confronts both what is “left to say” after dystopian collapse and who is “left to say” — the subject that tells the tale.”


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Melissa Buzzeo writes a literature of encounter, but also: descent, healing, refusal. She is the author of four full-length books: The Devastation(2015), For Want and Sound (2013), Face …

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