Collected Poems 1965-2010
This Constellation Is A Name:
A landmark volume gathering 45 years of work by one of our leading poets
From his early spare poems written in Spain to the recent ruminative work exploring language, tradition (often Jewish and diasporic) and the self, this book collects four decades of Michael Heller’s “tone perfect poems” as George Oppen described them. Enriched with the detailed landscapes of the phenomenal world and mind, This Constellation Is a Name confirms Michael Heller’s place at the forefront of contemporary American poetry.
If any readers of poetry doubt that eros and ethos are opposites that can only exist in each other’s mutual embrace, then Michael Heller’s This Constellation is a Name will come as genuine revelation. Seldom has the erotic gift of intimate portrayal coincided so fully with the ethical gift of objective attention. Heller knows that poetry has its stake in the world and the world’s construction; he also knows that inquiry cannot forsake the human scale. These poems are written “in our human need,” and that marks their deep sympathy, their real generosity. Such need drives through the body its fervent longing; such need forces through the mind that increment of attention that seeks the world’s very fact. These poems could only be written by a poet who heeds that most ancient command: to exist. Michael Heller is such a poet. He can see into the myriad complexities of that human condition to seek through the poem itself “just the real, and a wild nesting /of hope in the real.
An expert on the Objectivist poets, Michael Heller is himself an exemplar of the tradition. Clear, precise, and grounded, his poems display adamantine form and inscrutable technique.