Cuneiform Press is pleased to announce the publication of Larry Fagin's Complete Fragments, his first trade edition book of poems since I'll Be Seeing You (Full Court Press, 1978). Cover drawing by Glen Baxter. Pre-order before May 1st and receive a 20% discount off the cover price and free shipping and handling in the US on the trade paperback edition as well as the signed limited edition in cloth. Details appear in the sidebar.
While it is to be hoped that someone is busying themselves gathering the best of Larry Fagin’s earlier uncollected poems—the “Narrative Techniques” series (and related pieces), the “Eleven Poems” for Philip Guston—we have Cuneiform Press to thank for publishing this long-in-the-works book of Fagin’s wonderful prose poems. This latter form has been Fagin’s primary focus as a poet for much of the last twenty years (it is, astonishingly, almost thirty years since his last collection, the seventeen-page Nuclear Neighborhood), and it is a joy to have the fruits of his researches in this area collected between two covers at last. While Fagin well understands that 1+1=3, the greater mystery of his prose poems is that they are as much allover as additive works, their every sentence joined to its neighbors—and not only those—by sensible glue, which, here, is duplicitous in the very best sense: alive as in thickly a-hum. Some of the poems are antic, yes, but every “ka-pow” is balanced—maintained in exquisite suspension, in fact—by a corresponding “pa-dow,” such that the overall arrangement of poems—which is perfect, as you might expect—constitutes a poem in itself. Other pieces contain elements that may, upon first glance, strike the reader as arch (there is such a thing as a “Larryism”), but this material, more often than not, is inducted into the poem via an utter delicacy of ostention: selection as caress, show and tell reimagined as intimate act. These Fragments constitute impressions taken on a writing pad that might best be imagined as a stack of index cards shot in natural light on black-and-white ’Scope; their sum is entirely equal to—but at no point a copy of—the world.
Larry Fagin doesn't want to be famous. At times he's published his poems anonymously and at times insisted that his students & colleagues do likewise. The students insist that he is the best teacher ever or at least since X, Y or Z, all long dead (Z for centuries). The poems themselves are small, modest as Fagin is modest, yet built to last for generations. What if Cavafy were a member of the New York School? Or if Catullus had been a part of the Spicer Circle? They're powerful & opaque like the Barnett Newman sculpture in 2001, tho the design preference is that each one should be no bigger than a breadbox. I think of them as the blood diamonds of the Lower East Side. That is so not Brooklyn, you say. Exactly.
Larry Fagin is the author of 14 books of poetry. He is the co-publisher of Adventures in Poetry books, and edits Sal Mimeo, a little magazine. He lives in New York City, where he teaches privately.