Joe Safdie's new book exists in a place where poetry joins with other forms of thought & knowledge - "history, myth, politics, autobiographical narrative, criticism, prose," as he lists them elsewhere - to make a new hybridity in place of what has been kept apart & alien for far too long. In doing so, he joins a select company of poets for whom nothing human is foreign & everything observed or imagined can enter the field of the poem. That he does it with boundless humor & grace is also worth noting.
Poet Joe Safdie is at his best as he refreshes and renews the ancient story of Orpheus, which opens his new book Scholarship. Eloquent in his personal yet classic presentation of history, myth, politics and autobiography, he writes with an accomplished yet easily accessible voice that segues through time to the news of the moment, presenting an intimate and politically astute personal view of the ordinary events that make up the classic past and immediate present of poetry.
Postmodernism’s bifurcating canyons are notoriously intimidating to all but self-appointed practitioners. For mere bitcoins of close attention, Joe Safdie’s Scholarship will generously guide you both up and down river, and reward you with the knowledge you need to strike out on your own. Never will the sight of a well-stocked library be so alluring and welcoming as when you’ve finished this long-awaited book of poems by one of the most insightful and subtly witty poets working on (and beyond) the West Coast since the 1970s.
The great Jack Clarke used to load hermetic epigraphs, quotations, and borrowings onto and into his texts. They were (still are) detonations of a sort, opening shafts for difficult thought down and through the rubble of poetic protocol and complacency. Poetry as Scholarship . . . Joe Safdie, whose first full book you hold, is of this secret, somewhat unlicensed poetic company – off on his own, under the Po-biz radar, he follows in Clark’s wildcat tradition, working patiently, with older, tried and true tools, unconcerned with the fads and foibles of the Field. He’s been bringing strange minerals back from below since he learned some of the how as one of Ed Dorn’s closest students back in the day. No doubt if Dorn were here, the back cover of this book would have been occupied by his words, celebrating and calibrating this magnificent work.
Joe Safdie lives in a coastal community north of San Diego with his wife Sara and his cat Cody, teaches English at a local community college, and petitions the emperor to lift his exile. (Who is the emperor? Good question.) He’s published the chapbooks Wake Up The Panthers (with the assistance of Kayak Press), Saturn Return (Smithereens Press), Spring Training (Zephyr Press), September Song (Oasis Press), and Mary Shelley’s Surfboard (Blue Press); other poems, essays, reviews and opinions about literary matters are floating in the virtual universe and occasionally assume form.
· Paperback: 118 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-164-1
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