Free Verse Editions
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978-1-64317-140-1 (paperback, $14.99); 978-1-64317-141-8 (PDF, $9.99). © 2020 by Parlor Press. 116 pages.
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“Alias” by Eric Pankey. Reviewed by Mark Wagenaar. Plume, Issue #111, November 2020.
What People Are Saying
This collection of prose poems celebrates not one Alias but many, both named and nameless. With the masterful clarity of image and grasp of the ephemeral we have come to expect from this poet, Eric Pankey sets to light the fluidity of the human condition. These pages slip between the material reality of daily life and the immateriality of eternity, from the everyday station wagon loaded with groceries to the biblical rapture that ungrounds gravity. If the difference between this world and the next is slight, barely noticeable, then these poems exist in that liminal space. One has the sense that Pankey sees beyond the visible, or sees both the visible and the invisible at once. The great gift of his work is that it allows us, as readers, to also see. —Cynthia Marie Hoffman, author of Call Me When You Want to Talk About the Tombstones
As “winter rehearses its single line of dialogue” and “the weather goes about its unmaking,” Eric Pankey delves into memory and imagination in Alias. The prose poem is the ideal vehicle for these excursions, allowing Pankey’s mastery of poetry’s architectures to radiate both splendor and spareness. This is a poet who sees and re-sees, ever at home in poetry’s many possibilities. In Alias, Pankey solves the problem of how to write poetry when “each thought is ahead of itself and too late.” The solution: knowing that, “astray, one continues.” —Brian Henry, author of Lessness
Eric Pankey’s new collection, Alias, shines as a fractal of declaratives. Combining the communion of ekphrasis with the fragmentary nature of memory, these prose poems generate a singular imagery. As one speaker offers, “Sometimes an image arises out of nowhere and its source (an old newsreel? a dream?) escapes us: a group of explorers look down where the ice thins; the sled dogs, agitated, whimper.” Part field guide, part dream journal, Alias is wholly absorbing in its ability to crystallize distortion and render startling moments of discovery. —Jon Pineda, author of Let’s No One Get Hurt
Alias is Eric Pankey’s second collection of prose poems from Free Verse Editions. The first, Dismantling the Angel, won the New Measure Poetry Prize. Pankey continues to investigate the flexibility and possibility of this literary genre, the prose poem, which Hermaine Riffaterre says has “an oxymoron for a name.” H. L. Hix has praised Pankey’s prose poems for their “elusive and luminous sentences” and how they “take the shape of fire.” Kevin Prufer has celebrated their meditations “on mystery, human sympathy, and the divine.” Cynthia Marie Hoffman says of these new poems, “One has the sense that Pankey sees beyond the visible, or sees both the visible and the invisible at once.”
About the Author
Eric Pankey is the author of thirteen previous collections of poetry, including most recently Alias: Prose Poems. Dismantling the Angel (2014) received the New Measure Poetry Prize. His work has been supported by fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Brown Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Professor of English and the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he teaches in the MFA and BFA programs in Creative Writing.
I. | Alias | II. Et in Arcadia Ego | Exercise in Intuition | The Apprenticeship | Post-Diluvian | Outtakes from The Newlywed Game | What Is the Purpose of Your Visit? | Prospero in Exile | The Late Shift | The Other Story About José | After the Rapture | To Fix an Image in Memory | Speed Dating | Lilith As a Figure for the Moon | The Anvil | False Sermon—True Story | Convalescence | III. The Surveyor’s Map | Habitation | To Document the Ephemeral | The Unexpected Return | By Another Route | Night Wedding | From This Day Forward | Honeymoon at the Pine Crest Motor Hotel and Cabins | Childhood | The Theft | Visiting Your Father at the Hospital | The Sleeper | A Story Coalescing | Not Good with Faces | The Butcher | The Hyenas | IV. The Return of Odysseus | Ariadne on Naxos | Circe’s Island | Lazarus | Between Solon and Cedar Rapids on Highway One, 1984 | Elegy with Moonlit Doorway | Catalogue Raisonné | Asked to Account for His Whereabouts | Depiction Without a Subject | A Slipknot as It Slips | Exposures | Onlookers at the Scene | The Closet | Core Samples | The Change | The Mystery of the Ordinary | V. Awaiting Election Day | After the Yard Sale Before the Parade | Minor Arcana | The Swineherd | The Angel Gabriel Bathing in the Euphrates | Midsummer’s Eve | Romantic Landscape with the Garden of Gethsemane | Still Lit | The Open Gate | The School Nurse | About His Past Lives | An Errant Absence | Negative Latitudes | The Arrival | Valley of the Shadow | The Line Starts Here | VI. Opus Posthumous | Acknowledgments | About the Author | Free Verse Editions
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