Monday, March 22, 2010


from Shearsman Books:

Michael Heller: Beckmann Variations and other poems
Published 15 March 2010
Paperback, 80pp, 8.5x5.5ins, £8.95 / $15

ISBN 9781848610873

Ekphrasis, that ancient mode found in Homer's description of Achilles's shield or Keats' Grecian Urn, is here transformed in Michael Heller's meditations in poetry and prose on work by the painter Max Beckmann. Heller navigates, sometimes with Yeats as his Virgil, through a gallery of Beckmann's pictures, seeing them as uniquely bringing home contemporary civilization's catastrophic impulses ("as if days were not for sanity"), impulses at once horrific and unsettling yet strangely beautiful and restorative.

Comments on Michael Heller’s recent work:

“At once grave and uplifting, Heller’s poems are serene meditations on time, decay, and loss that recover from the ruin a repletion that is also a recognition of our necessary incompleteness before the world and language.”—Patrick Pritchett in Jacket Magazine

“In a poetic generation that has frequently settled for small answers, his work insists upon the largest questions.”—Robert Zaller in Rain Taxi

“He accepts that his poetry is a fold in a great conversation of commentary, that linguistic “meeting place” in which he posits his faith. And it is in this belief, inspiring his practice, that Heller’s poetry paradoxically achieves its magisterial power.”—Norman Finkelstein on A Big Jewish Blog

Michael Heller is a poet, essayist and critic. His most recent books are Eschaton, a collection of poems (Talisman, 2009), Speaking The Estranged: Essays on the Work of George Oppen (Salt 2009), and Two Novellas: Marble Snows & The Study (ahadadabooks, 2009). He is the recipient of many honors and grants including the DiCastagnola Prize of the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Fund for Poetry.

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