Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems

Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems


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The Dead Man, Marvin Bell’s brilliant poetic invention, is an overarching consciousness, alive and dead at once, defeating time. Mystical and anonymous, The Dead Man offers searing insight into the joys, as well as the catastrophes, of fluctuating cultural and political moments. Incarnate draws from all of Bell’s previous collections where The Dead Man appeared, and adds an abundant cache of new poems that resonate with “the dark matter and sticky stuff” of life. As David St. John writes in his introduction, “No voice in our poetry has spoken with more eloquence and wisdom of the daily spiritual, political and psychological erosion in our lives; no poet has gathered our American experience with a more capacious tenderness—all the while naming and celebrating our persistent hopes and enduring human desires….Remarkable for its eclectic and culturally diverse vision, Incarnate embodies a vivid world of poetic reflection unlike anything else in American poetry.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595837
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 10/29/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 543,367
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Marvin Bell was born in New York City 1937, and raised in rural Long Island. He attended Alfred University and the University of Chicago. He enjoyed a long teaching career at the University of Iowa, where he influenced generations of poets and was the Flannery O’Connor Professor of Letters. Bell has published twenty-one volumes of poetry and served as Iowa’s first Poet Laureate. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa and Port Townsend, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

The Book of the Dead Man (His Papers)

1. About the Dead Man’s Papers

The dead man remembers paper.
He remembers roller skate keys and fruit box scooters, typewriter ribbons and swamp coolers, and lots and lots of paper.
Paper stained by words and telltale commas.
He could spot talent in a writer’s commas.
There were meanings, there were diagrams on the ball field that told the players where to run, there were lines in the dirt that paralyzed a chicken.
There was crumpled paper holding words that would never be released.
And there were blackouts in the national files so that documents attesting to the criminality of officials became graphic illustrations of barrier art.
The dead man tore paper in the fashion of atomic dispersals.
He burned paper in the fashion of cremation.
He balled-up the good ideas that were too late and the personal confessions of friends.

2. More About the Dead Man’s Papers

He took the papers of the famous, and what he knew, to his grave.
The dead man blots paper of its blood and its tears.
He tapes together the halves that were torn apart in anger and secretes them.
He relieves the insecure.
He drops a dime on the drafts of the dull, the lightweights, the minor laureates.
The dead man loves the shredder and incinerator.
He buries treasure but leaves no maps.
Everything in dead man's space is an X, you yourself can name it.
There is a word for each X, a site specific, an open vise.
Stick your neck out if you like.
The Book of the Dead Man (Joyous Dead Man)

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