By Chris Nealon
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
ISBN# 9781940696973 (6x8.5, 104pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781940696980 (6x8.5, 104pp, limited edition hardcover)
The five poem-essays of Chris Nealon's The Shore give space and voice to the complexity of contemporary life, admitting bafflement and dismay but also creating openings for indiscreet hope. Queer and anti-capitalist, they urge us not to be ruled by our fears, while always ethically navigating the forces—race, class, age, gender, and others—that put us each in different places of power. Nimbly exploring connections among beauty, friendship, and politics, The Shore gives our era of crisis a language at once vernacular and philosophical, in a form that's both teeming and fluid.
Like the space heroes of his childhood, Nealon does not give in to the Dark Side in his poetry, retreat into “low-level intra-bourgeois competitiveness,” intellectualism, narcissism, or fear. Nor does he engage in “apocalypse braggadocio,” setting up the poet as a hero of the breakdown. The five long poems that make up this book are discursive, exploratory, and conversational. They address friends, fellow poets, literary figures, the speaker’s family and community. They insist, with love, on the lived experience of both beauty and terror—neither wins, there is no easy comfort here, but each has its reality, and they exist in hair’s breadth proximity: waving sometimes looks like drowning.
Allison Cobb, Lambda Literary Review
Nealon is an anarchic writer-thinker flirting with the politics of anarchism, but I find a fully formed existential moment in his ‘tepid intellectual watchfulness,’ as he puts it, a visceral anxiety no less visceral for the fact that his only move is to articulate it, piecemeal.
Daniel Levin Becker, The Millions
Chris Nealon is Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Shore (Wave Books, 2020) as well as two books of literary criticism, Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Historical Emotion before Stonewall (Duke, 2001) and The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in The American Century (Harvard, 2011), as well as three earlier books of poetry: The Joyous Age (Black Square Editions, 2004), Plummet (Edge Books, 2009), and Heteronomy (Edge, 2014). He lives in Washington, DC.
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