Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit
By Timothy Donnelly
(Grove Press, Paperback, 9780802139573, 112pp.)
Publication Date: January 2003
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Timothy Donnelly's poems have already garnered a following in some of America's best literary journals (The Paris Review, Ploughshares), and the long-awaited publication of his first collection of poetry will make a spectacular new addition to the Grove Press Poetry Series. Donnelly seduces the reader with his ability to summon up just about any topic, sensibility, or thought, with the self-assurance and effortlessness of a skilled master. The title poem is a brilliant expose of an imaginary play that is an allegorical rendering of a single lifetime. Donnelly imagines a stage and populates it with objects that emerge as pictorial and poetic anchors punctuating the enveloping verse. As the poem craftily weaves around these, its energy builds up to a climax that is both a luminous poetic offering and an amatory overture at the reader. In "Accidental Species," he puts forth a remarkable statement about his own efforts as a poet, a humorous ars poetica ("If I only had a crutch I wouldn't wobble / half so much") by way of a heartbreaking lover's complaint ("The terror I inspired I am made to feel"). Acclaimed by Richard Howard as "brilliant and masterful," Timothy Donnelly's premiere work combines an extraordinary gift for rhetorical exuberance and syntactical intricacy with a stunning poetic maturity. For its thoughtfulness and range, for the sheer energy of its rhetoric, and for the audacity of its poetic acumen, Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit is a remarkable debut collection from one of our most outstanding and original young poets.