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Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Poetry
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Pub. Date: May 2006
Format: Paperback, 112pp
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey's "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and histories�from America to Andaluc�a, from Ethiopia to Vienna�in a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance.
Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey's new collection of poems, Splay Anthem, takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces. Divided into three sections�"Braid," "Fray," and "Nub" (one referent Mackey notes in his stellar Introduction: "the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, the shrunken place the earth has become, planet Nub")�Splay Anthem weaves together two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years, Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu" (though "mu no more itself / than Andoumboulou").
In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Mir� painting, Mackey's poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dreamtime, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth's music, spirit lift.
About the Author
Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida in 1947, and grew up in California. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including a Whiting Writer's Award in 1993 and election to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001. His work has been widely anthologized, and he is the author of several books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. He edits the literary journal Hambone and co-edited the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose. A recording of his poems read with musical accompaniment was released in 1995�Strick (Spoken Engine Co.). Mackey is currently Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz
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