Shuffle and Breakdown (Paperback)

By Cody Walker

Waywiser Press, 9781904130314, 96pp.

Publication Date: October 13, 2008

List Price: 15.95*
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Poetry. Cody Walker's SHUFFLE AND BREAKDOWN, his first collection and a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize in 2005 and 2006, is a work of comic brilliance and devastating irony. From Abbott and Costello: The Alzheimer's Years to a series of letters to Whitman from his imagined grandson, this is a wondrous strange book that operates with the precise timing of a great joke, while bracing itself for dissolution and worse.

"You'll need your wits about you when you read this astonishing book. Cody Walker keeps working surprises, setting traps, yanking rugs from underfoot--and I must say, I enjoyed myself no end. Escalation, 2007, for instance, sounds as if written by a Mother Goose high on LSD. Walker is unique, no mere trickster but a serious craftsman who blurs the line of demarcation between sober poetry and light verse. Though he sometimes writes in forms usually frivolous--limericks, double dactyls, clerihews--he can do so with dark import. An amazing series of letters from a fictitious grandson of Walt Whitman is alone worth the price of admission."--X. J. Kennedy

"In this case, the voice comes from some ways off, at an unexpected angle. Cody Walker's poems are singular, and severally strong. SHUFFLE AND BREAKDOWN is more than an assemblage; it's a collection with a subtending architecture, so that while one is savoring local pleasures--a brash simile, an odd and antic rhyme--one is aware of the book's shapely whole. Like Roethke, who also had a Pacific Northwest background, Walker makes adroit use of fractured nursery rhyme. Like Whitman, with whom he shares a taste for the out-flung, Walker means to be comprehensive. But SHUFFLE AND BREAKDOWN is more than a toting up of its influences. Here's a wry and rueful and utterly appealing new sensibility."--Brad Leithauser.