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The Quicken Tree (American Poets Continuum) Paperback – August 1, 1995 by Bill Knott (Author)

I have been reading Knott’s poetry since before time, during the first ice age, I particularly remember enjoying his Collected Poems. Some(cringe) people I have argued his work with run away from it with a puzzled look upon their faces. I conclude that they are seeking a peak at another beast; perhaps a Victorian nah-nah poet or a romantic la-la poet. Maybe even a post-modern-neo-contemporary-confesional wah-wah poet. (All experimental aardvark poets take a moment and be smug, for you have not been throttled) In any case, the irony is. …. Knott is one of America’s best romantics, he is a funky narrator and a bizarre confessionalist. Unfortunately, the reader must be half out of his or her mind(even if only for a moment) to fully enjoy Mr. Knott’s style. (is this true?) I suggest releasing one’s self from any pre-conceived notions about language, personal communications, and poetry, before sloshing into one of Knott’s poems. Let the poet create a temporary landscape for you, not in merely a single poem, but from cover to cover. Do not throw the covers over the head and decide nonsense, be patient, and the light will come, a voice will emerge. A voice that participates in emotion – is angry, sad, hungry, damp, taxed, frantic, genius-pudding and often funny. Bill Knott’s poems strike me as being deliberate in all categories. His style is easily recognized and can only be admired while making transcontinental migrations through ice corridors and marmalade transitional penguins. Read to write, write to live. The iguana has spoken. Check it out!

Review Knott’s poems (like Celan’s) are characterized by compounded words, convoluted syntax, and parataxic leaps. In the hands of a lesser poet this making strange in order to make new(er) might seem like so much postmodern knee jerk. His sophisticated strategies and lyric euphony (based on alliteration, assonance, and smart rhymes) should convince that it just isn’t so. Many poems rely on anatomical imagery, especially the skin — which serves both as the life’s archive as well as the self’s non-negotiable boundary. The succinct "Escape Plan," states the problem: "I examine/ my skin / searching for / the pore / with EXIT / over it." Between poems that move in and out of smuggish sobriety (frequently wedding existential angst to what has traditionally been the camp of low-brow culture, as in "The Man Who Married His Checkout Lane"), are light sardonics, often metapoetic, which provide surcease between longer poems that demand, and deserve, multiple readings. Copyright © 1996, Boston Review. All rights reserved. — From The Boston Review


The Quicken Tree (American Poets Continuum) Paperback – August 1, 1995 by Bill Knott (Author) Review

Bill Knott is the guy who will be remembered as the fabulous overlooked poet, like Emily Dickinson & Lorine Niedecker except they aren’t the GUY. Anyway, his zany verse is a lot of fun. He writes with a keen ear & a finely honed, uniquely weird sense of humor. I don’t know how Dylan Thomas would feel about being side by side with Bill Knott on your poetry shelf. With his deliberate & modern diction, Bill Knott is good. -Read Reviews-

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