Poetry has no precedent for the voice in Letters from Aldenderry. Colloquial and demotic, it takes pride and pleasure in the sound of American, but it is emphatically "from elsewhere" in its joyful symmetries. What astounds is the multiplicity of Nikolayev's registers and his command of perfect verbal pitch. This is cosmopolitan one-man theater at its best. Life is all there, its whole nine yards from birth to shock to recovery, from thoughtful conversation and intimacies of the soul to standup guffaws and punning provocation. Filled with an organic fusion of extremes, with healthy experimentation and a history of poetic forms that looms behind every line, this book is an apotheosis of freedom that shuts the gaping gulf between lyric and avant-garde. The poems are about what has been lost and found and is worth keeping: creative solitude, empathy, love, pain and laughter, the poetic experience itself. Words do not swallow the reader in an avalanche of consciousness, they flow to a varied musical rhythm and make sense. The overall impression is integral and wholesome.
The work succeeds at modeling a persuasive modern hero-a far-flung, uprooted emigre intellectual who makes his home in diverse languages and cultures and stares at the world through a unique pair of eyes. This type is among the most interesting in current literature, fraught as it is with multiple biography, dialectics, contradictions. A poet can cultivate compassion to the point of sheer self-transformation. Nikolayev is crazy in the best possible sense of the word.
Born in Moscow in 1966 and raised in Russia and Moldova, Philip Nikolayev grew up equally fluent in English and Russian. On relocating to the US in 1990 to attend Harvard he has written primarily in English. His poetry is published internationally. Nikolayev's previous collections include Monkey Time, winner of the 2001 Verse Prize. He lives in Boston and co-edits Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.
Eagles Secluded Thunders Pyromania A Key in the Puddle Locked Nostalgia You Who The Art of Forgetting A Plaint on the Parting of Inversion from Poetry Were I Not Old Hell Title Disease Still Communicating The Green Square Tendency toward Vagrancy Grizzly Green Eye Apple Seeds Good Enough Lunch Nightcap On Falling Asleep in August Hot Wee Hours A Secret Open Secret A Fund of Hedge Funds Eternal City Not Otherwise Thought Diotima's Lesson Need to Talk Hymn Moi aussi j'aime les nuages qui passent la-bas Odessa Herring 1983 Seeing Stargazing Discipline A Stately Goodbye For Stephen Sturgeon "Things happen as if not happening ..." Hold that Thought Unhappening Morning Facts of Life "these pages turn cold in the wind ..." "In this vat of wishful hearts ..." Revolution Homage to Paradox Cicadas Book Tongue "My name is Wormswurst, I give back to men their Zen ..." Hotel Sharks Life The Next Level "I wish to live my life like a house insect ..." "Global bacteria local euphoria ..." Folklore Urbane Suburbia A Quarry of Words 19 March 2004 Crocodile Farewell A Midsummer Night's Stroll A Ghazal Commencement Walk I Am not Used to Using a Cell Phone Poetry Month Poem Rhetoric Target Practice The Cure The Seeded Friend of Humankind Is Cashed The Nut Club Zeno's Stoop Offer Ideers A Letter to the Antipodes Pensees Ithinkistillcanhear Ideas "A taste that loves the classical cliche ..." Benares USA In a Hospital Nothing Changes Philosophy & Rhetoric One Sensation, Two Sensation I'll Write Coastwise Lights Suburbi Et Suborbi Recollections To Assuage States of Affairs A Silence within a Silence Simple Joys of Food & Drink Letters from the Past Indian Summer Modulo Feeling Litmus Test "God, empowered to the max ..." A Life, in 500 Words or Less Earth
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