Poetry, 6″x8″, 68 pages, perfectbound
Publication date: 15 October 2010
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ADVANCE Praise for then, we were still living
In these roughly whispered poems, Klein somehow—miraculously—manages to evoke a past of empty suitcases, of ghosts, while being fully present in the moment, in the now. In this way each phrase, each utterance, is completely weighted-their music enters us deeply, even as they seemingly drift past.
Every once in a great while, someone writes a book that changes the way I read poems. Michael Klein’s then, we were still living is one of those books. Its language is so close to the bone, there’s nothing to interfere with or soften the intimate transactions between reader and poem. When the subject is death, or love, or the great metaphysical questions asked by the soul—and every poem in the book is on that scale—we see that meaning and language are one and the same. I’m going to give copies to everyone I know.
Several years ago I heard Michael Klein read a four line poem from what was to become this remarkable new collection, then, we were still living, and thinking that he had gotten to the heart of the new, changed world. Now, I am sure of it. Everything in this book is terrifying and beautiful and necessary and there isn’t one syllable that isn’t absolutely required by the times we live in. This is a wholly original and essential book.
then, we were still living begins with the gorgeous short poem, “Bread,” and moves on with precision and concision from one glory to the next. I think “The Ranges” is one of the most searing poems of fathers and sons in our time, and the poem “The Twin” is the best poem ever written on the subject of twinship. Michael Klein sees the world broadly, deeply and clearly, and uses each word with ultimate care. This is an important and essential book of poems.
Dear Reader, you feel “more in the world” after Michael Klein has flooded you with light in these poems. You blink. There’s the page, sure, as a membrane between the living and the dead, the (sexy) body and the soul, but you’re less sure of the divisions as you feel your way around the old, modern, American, excruciating, “always movie” of the real. In this condition, dear Reader, you’re vulnerable to something like awe.
About the Author
Michael Klein’s books are: Track Conditions, a memoir, The End of Being Known, a memoir, and 1990, a book of poems which tied with James Schuyler to win a Lambda Literary Award in 1993. He teaches in the MFA Program at Goddard College and is on the summer faculty at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He is currently working on a book version of his blog to be called States of Independence. He divides his time between Provincetown and New York City.