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October 13 , 2008

The Lesser Fields


"Rob Schlegel has a mind of winter. Like the painter Morandi, Schlegel makes a world of absence and deprivation-our world, the world of human mortality-feel like plenitude. Imagine wanting to discover the place where you yourself 'have not yet happened.' Now imagine creating this place in a language of hard-won precision-a diction and syntax so elegantly austere that the smallest gesture becomes an explosion of possibility. The result is a book that feels rivetingly contemporary while resembling nothing else, a book that seems shockingly intimate while giving nothing away. The Lesser Fields is a guide-book to the world we've always known but never truly seen." —James Longenbach, final judge “In The Lesser Fields, Rob Schlegel takes a lit match to the surfaces of his words in an act of poetic arson. Thus the poet wanders a landscape whose commonplace markers-fish, sea, trees, birds-are made disquietingly strange: ‘Before my mind / Can shape it, presence / Finishes a thought in my fingers.’ The natural world of language manifests with an incendiary beauty at once tender and dangerous, reckless and precise. This poetry burns subtly, but the heat is unmistakable.”—Elizabeth Robinson

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