I can't remember the last time I couldn't put down a book of poetry.
How do you feel about controlling your life right now? Do you want to survive, or merely succeed? In his acute, deep, voluble, immaculate, and unerring Believers, Andrew Durbin describes the present. I think of Renata Adler, not Joan Didion. Tan Lin, instead of Ashbery. Herbert, before Wordsworth. When we begin to want to know what the first decade of this century was like, we will read this book. For now, I’ll say it made me feel alive.
The poems in Andrew Durbin’s lush Believers, like George Herbert’s poems in The Temple, are not only about devotion, but are themselves devotional works. The objects of Durbin’s devotion, which is both sublime and perverse, descend from the spectacular heaven of the present tense. It turns out that in the present, Justin Bieber and Paula Deen are but two of a large pantheon guarding over the “near impossible exchange / between times once alike but denied / the way back to one another.” I mean, this book is a trip. Its mise-en-scène includes jets and abject hotel suites, refugee apartments and a cloudy San Francisco. And yet the singer of these hymns to glamour remains “stationed / among the nodes / asserting [him] / in the various networks / that have become feeling.” It’s a feeling both holy and, seriously, profane. This book is a major contribution to a genealogy of the present state of the soul. Believe it.
Andrew Durbin is the author of Mature Themes (Nightboat Books 2015) as well as several chapbooks, including pɹɐpuɐʇs ǝɥʇ (Insert Blanc Press 2014) and Reveler (Argos Books 2013). With Ben Fama, he edits Wonder, an open-source publishing and events platform for poetry, performance, and new media art. He lives in New York.
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