What Things Are Made Of (Pitt Poetry Series) (Paperback)
University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822962298, 104pp.
Publication Date: February 24, 2013
Charles Harper Webb is celebrated for his use of humor; yet even his funniest poems rise, as the best comedy must, out of deep human drives, sorrows, and needs. Powerful immersions in what it means to be human, these poems explore the spectrum of emotions from love to hate, tenderness to brutality. They can be withering and vulnerable in the same breath. Models of clarity and vividness, they are mysterious when they need to be, ranging from lyric to narrative, from realism to wild surreal flights, powered by a fierce, compassionate intelligence. Metaphors of startling aptness and originality, a voice at once endearing and provocative, high musicality, propulsive energy, wild imaginative leaps, as well as mastery of diction from lyricism to street-speak, create a reading experience of the first order. Uniformly fun to read, these poems go down easy, but pack a wallop. As Robert Frost said poetry should do, What Things Are Made Of "begins in delight and ends in wisdom."
About the Author
Praise For What Things Are Made Of (Pitt Poetry Series)…
—Alicia Suskin Ostriker
“Twelve years ago when I first plucked Webb’s Liver from the crush it pinned me to the carpet of the bookstore aisle. Books later, here I am on his planet of What Things Are Made Of, spelunking the Dickeyville Grotto, ‘Bimbo Limbo,’ and Andy’s Texaco. Webb’s Things—crafted from a recombinant cynical romanticism that dreams with one eye open—groan and growl out of the ‘cracked crankcase’ of his wildness. Dare, dear reader, to harness yourself to this bungee jump that—anguished, masterful, and still deeply funny on the hundredth reading—will dangle you over the precipice, where you will get an eyeful, an earful, and have a polyphonic three-bone time. Webb’s gift won’t let you down.”
“Webb swerves effortlessly between humor and the sort of introspection that we all must feel from time to time. . . . [he] is spectacular at the funnier side of life. Who can’t identify with the confounding way memory works, jettisoning knowledge in favor of trivia?”
—Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)
“Webb displays such a wonderfully quirky, idiosyncratic voice, whether writing about oil-slicked, doomed penguins or puppy love. His poems careen between wild hyperboles, the irony of looking back at youthful indiscretions and unrequited or disappointed love, to the joy he feels with his beloved small son and wife, and his love of old rock bands like the Stones or Led Zeppelin. But there’s always something interesting, fascinating in this collection, something that makes us read and keep turning the pages, to see what new and deliriously strange take he’ll have on the things of this world.”
“Metaphors of startling aptness and originality, a voice at once endearing and provocative, high musicality, propulsive energy, wild imaginative leaps, as well as mastery of diction from lyricism to street-speak, create a reading experience of the first order. Uniformly fun to read, these poems go down easy, but pack a wallop . . . I laughed, I cried, and I spent time mulling over his lines for days.”
—Reading Room Book Reviews