“Hole torn in the language, / How shall we speak?” The first lines of the first poem in Paul Breslin’s artful second collection of poetry demand an answer, of both poet and reader, to the seemingly unspeakable tragedies of modern life. Between My Eye and the Light forms a beautifully insistent exercise in the power of language to engage experiences both mundane and profound. Breslin queries far-flung corners of experience for answers, engaging childhood, his longtime home of Chicago, small moments of life, and encounters with artists such Rainer Maria Rilke and Derek Walcott. The poems even query the volume’s opening question, How shall we speak? While pat answers elude us, poetry acts as a bulwark against cliché and cynicism, strengthening those who have the courage to question and explore.
Nobody's Nation offers an illuminating look at the St. Lucian, Nobel-Prize-winning writer, Derek Walcott, and grounds his work firmly in the context of West Indian history. Paul Breslin argues that Walcott's poems and plays are bound up with an effort to re-imagine West Indian society since its emergence from colonial rule, its ill-fated attempt at political unity, and its subsequent dispersal into tiny nation-states.
According to Breslin, Walcott's work is centrally concerned with the West Indies' imputed absence from history and lack of cohesive national identity or cultural tradition. Walcott sees this lack not as impoverishment but as an open space for creation. In his poems and plays, West Indian history becomes a realm of necessity, something to be confronted, contested, and remade through literature. What is most vexed and inspired in Walcott's work can be traced to this quixotic struggle.
Linking extensive archival research and new interviews with Walcott himself to detailed critical readings of major works, Nobody's Nation will take its place as the definitive study of the poet.
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Paul Breslin Northwestern University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3552.R392Y68 2000 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Acerbic, rueful, tender, and suffused with understated wit, Paul Breslin's first collection of poems inhabits a realm of hard truths: the human condition in extremis, imprisoned or enslaved; the urban nightmare of incipient violence; the universe of adult dementia seen from the perspective of the baffled child.