"Dubie has already been recognized as one of the most powerful and influential American poets . . . his poems have always been generous and inclusive, capable of containing multiple and conflicting worlds--of memory and the present, of the artistic and the daily."-- The Washington Post Book World
"Dubie has a singular talent for inhabiting a persona and making convincing representations of another person's life, taking on a different view and experience of the world...Read more...
"Dubie has already been recognized as one of the most powerful and influential American poets . . . his poems have always been generous and inclusive, capable of containing multiple and conflicting worlds--of memory and the present, of the artistic and the daily."--The Washington Post Book World
"Dubie has a singular talent for inhabiting a persona and making convincing representations of another person's life, taking on a different view and experience of the world... It is the tenderness of his identifications that make Dubie's work so extraordinary." --Boston Review
"Dubie continues to build poems on the unstable terrain of dreams and contemporized Blakean visions, stacking sharp images and impenetrable questions into tottering, sometimes ominous funhouse meditations." --Library Journal
The poems in Norman Dubie's Insomniac Liar of Topo behave much like that of a linear accelerator: exploding worlds into each other, from opposite poles, with tremendous speed, to discover the worlds within. Populated by an eccentric menagerie of mystics, holy men, and brilliant artists, Dubie brings together the astonishingly grotesque and sardonically beautiful, to call forth the sincere within the context of war and human dissonance.
Dubie, a master purveyor of trickster protest and psychological release, uses an array of voices to highlight the splinter and shatter of wartime, of destroyed art and sacred texts, and the specific and various destructions that have made humans themselves aliens of their own planet.
So, the sun's down, the ship's lights
are like obvious fat jewels. And
if we want to have commerce
with the lizard men in their blue suits,
then we must eat more of these slouching animals
and fasted too.
Norman Dubie is the author of nineteen books of poetry and served as poetry editor for The Iowa Review and director of the graduate poetry workshop at the University of Iowa. He helped found the MFA program at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he teaches as a regents professor for creative writing.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 38.
- Review Date: 2007-09-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Wild with righteous anger and dreamlike invention that can border on randomness, the prolific Dubie maintains his neo-Surrealist niche with this 25th book. Many of the poems protest, and parody, the violence in Iraq; others search (or perhaps parody) a multicultural panoply of religions for a godhead in which to believe. The first long sequence juxtaposes the “Black Madonna” (a Catholic icon from Poland) with the “labyrinths” of Egyptian tombs where “the high priest, Mythic Destraktus, is now drinking/ the pod-water of immortality again.” A later lyric, as angry as it is absurd, concludes with a view of dead children “washed/ of the blood/ of baby Jesus, naked, on pine tables with kerosene.” William Blake, UFO cults and Queen “Elizabeth with her Privy Council” also put in appearances, as fast-moving free verse lines and broken-up stanzas help Dubie (Groom Falconer) seek a language that can include all he feels. At best, Dubie achieves a desert equivalent of the backwoods dream-vision poetry of Frank Stanford. Often, though, the lines seem rushed and sloppy, the poet inattentive to how he sounds—if only because, overwhelmed by vivid ideas, he finds himself in quite a hurry to record each vision before its successor arrives. (Oct.)