Plain Talk Rising (Paperback)
PTR (New York), 9780692107966, 60pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Mark Dow's Plain Talk Rising opens when a boy opens his eyes to his mother's already-inescapable presence. It ends with the possibility of endlessness when the mother touches her own pregnant belly and "for the first time he knows she knows he is there."
The New Haven Review says: "Plain Talk Rising is a vivid performance of a self-aware poetics, able to make us feel our lived-in time and a kind of eternal time. . . . Dow's brilliant wordplay is equal to the stringent -- and playful -- task he sets himself. His themes, of creation, identity, and the mystery of our sex-engendered existence, reference a possible mythos while always keeping poesis as the wildcard up the sleeve of meaning."
Laurence Lieberman (author of The Creole Mephistopheles and Beyond the Muse of Memory: Essays on Contemporary American Poets) calls Plain Talk Rising "a truly remarkable and challenging book."
David Rosenberg (author of A Literary Bible and co-author with Harold Bloom of The Book of J) writes that Plain Talk Rising "transmutes poetry into prose, and then back again, like an alchemist let loose in a writing workshop that may set alight our era of MFA's for good."
Sentences, stanzas, lines, words, and even individual letters are forms which "make a man feel trapped and free." Syntax touches and delineates objects, ideas, and emotions evenly; "what's most invisible's the main thing, after all."
"Does everyone fight something without form, / something formless, I mean, something parsed / to powder mistaken for nothing while meanwhile / slipped above the radar and re-forming itself on / a wider perimeter, formlessness notwithstanding, / or is that just me?"
Before being "self-published," Plain Talk Rising was a finalist in the Colorado Prize, New Issues, and Yale Series competitions; it was a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award from Black Lawrence Press.
Read more about the book on the Agni blog ("Dick Talk," Sept. 3, 2018).
Dow's poems and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Agni, Alaska Quarterly Review, Chicago Review, Conjunctions, Drunken Boat, Fascicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Paris Review, Pequod, PN Review, SLAM Wrestling, Threepenny Review, and 3: AM Magazine.
A graduate of Yale University and the University of California at Irvine, Dow is also the author of American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons (California, 2004).
Erratum: If you bought Plain Talk Rising before November 5, 2018, please make the following correction in your copy. On p. 14, the penultimate line of the second stanza should read: ." . . To remember and forget are not two opposite acts here." Later printings have been corrected.]