Reading Novalis in Montana

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-01-27
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
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Drawing inspiration from Novalis (1772-1801) a poet who, like the other adherents of early German Romanticism, believed in the correspondence between inner and outer worlds, Kwasny divines the palpable and ineffable ways in which inherited traditions—indigenous culture, mythology, romanticism, modernism, surrealism, postmodernism, and more—inform daily life.

Finding inspiration in the mountain West, Kwasny weaves a shimmering web of connections. Reading Novalis in Montana stretches boundaries with a section of “reading poems”—poems in dialogue with romantic and modernist poets, including Ezra Pound, H.D., Novalis, Dickinson, as well as a sequence that is a twenty-first century take on “The Wasteland,” included with stunning lyric poems.

Using luxuriant syntax to string together conditional clauses, these poems throw the reader backward and forward within a line and a poem. Alternatively, repetition offers a commentary on meaning, chopping perception into fragments. Combined with a charming self-qualification that deliberately interrupts momentum, this work smartly ties the reader back down to earth.

Throughout details of lived experience emerge—hiking through the Pacific Northwest, helping a friend deal with cancer, sorting through the ruins of a relationship —and yet the interior voice is always tuned to the physical world, envisioning the shared understanding that connects all life.

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