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Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Poetry)

Allan Peterson


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The world is terrifying and exhilarating. Believing firmly in the romantic notion that "embellishment is love," Allan Peterson in Fragile Acts combines the intellectual force of T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens, the ethereal wonder of Robert Hass, and the tight lyric beauty of Elizabeth Bishop and Donald Hall. These steely, wide-ranging poems are at once personal and philosophical, incisive and meditative--funny, serious, compassionate and searching.

Juxtaposing the fast pace of contemporary society with the quiet localism and naturalism of the great American transcendentalists, Peterson's sinewy, muscular collection reveals a profoundly intelligent, curious mind leaping from object to thought to emotion. And yet, poem after poem, Peterson somehow binds seemingly unrelated elements into one stunning whole. You'll nod your head in reflection one moment and laugh out loud the next. These moving poems are a profound delight to read.

Peterson writes with wondering beauty: "As a child I knew I was sleeping when I began / falling though still furled in my sheets / and I would look over other people's shoulders / to see what they were reading / the headlines the footnotes / Extra Extra / a boy has left his room through a map on the wall."
And again later, with a sly smile: "When she twirled and slapped / a mosquito and missed, a red sun stayed on her leg throughout / most of the chapter on Self Reliance.

Praise For Fragile Acts (McSweeney's Poetry)

"Like 'Brazil’s undiscovered caverns of amethyst,' Allan Peterson's Fragile Acts is a major find."
John Ashbery

" A wonder to behold and a joy to read. Allan Peterson's poems dance to the music of time, like light on water or wind in the trees."
Lewis Lapham

"Allan Peterson's collection Fragile Acts is a spacewalk on the wild side. I loved it. He puts music to the tension between the desperate human experience and the cool removal of the cosmos. His poems are refreshingly discrete artifacts--perfected and edgy-raw at the same time. They stand alone but gain power in one another's presence. This is an exciting new voice, one we've been waiting for."
Laura Kasischke

McSweeney's, 9781936365807, 72pp.

Publication Date: June 12, 2012

About the Author

Allan Peterson has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize 10 times. His poems have appeared in The Nation, Boston Review, Agni, the Believer, and The Paris Review, as well as several anthologies. Peterson's 2002 collection, Anonymous Or, won the Defined Providence Press Competition, and his follow-up volume, All the Lavish in Common (2005), won the prestigious Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts. He divides his time between Florida and Oregon.