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While such poems can seem as performance-oriented as a Spalding Gray monologue, Berman anticipates the criticism in ""Cassette County"" which ends with the compound koan ""anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship, anti-showmanship. Or talking about signing his name on the lower corner of a window so the world becomes his art through his perception of it. there is a beautiful artlessness to david berman's poetry that belies the breadth of his content and vision.

Giving a rating for this--or nearly any--collection of poetry would be easier if you could rate individual poems. a lot of these poems made me smile and sometimes laugh, and wish that I could inhabit the little world of feelings they create. However, overall, I’d recommend it for its strengths, and it does seem to fit certain kinds of moods and inspirations. obviously a lyricist such as Berman is really a poet and obviously he has more to say on the subject of America, addiction, aging, and 5:30 pm.

His recent album with Purple Mountains has been in massive rotation for me this summer, particularly the opening track " That's Just the Way I Feel" which has gotten me through many long days, but listening to it on the way home tonight I can't help but notice the cries for help in the lyrics. I think there’s a sort of (potentially stereotype-like, though not to me) concept of what the working-class life might seem like in terms of day-to-day details at home with “appliance failures on Olive Street” and “the complex Italians versus the basic Italians”. in times of crisis i carry around books of poetry the way that some people carry around religious texts, reading and re-reading familiar poems like prayers.

And all the interviews and articles that emerged about the intervening "lost" years since Silver Jews ended. Do yourself a massive favor and introduce yourself to them, they always give a kind, firm handshake and smile to your soul.I came to this collection shamefully late, especially considering the more than a decade under the influence of his music in Silver Jews, of which David Berman is the frontman along with members of the band Pavement (including the always amazing Stephen Malkmus and on a few Bonnie 'Prince' Billy tracks).

self-portrait at 28" is a work of particular brilliance; each time i read it i am piqued and comforted, loving it anew. Another favorite poem of mine from the collection, titled “From Guide to the Graves of British Actors”, mixes preconceived notions about the Brits that Berman attributes, presumably, to those “state-side” with some semi-authentic sounding “slang” to come up with something quite amusing, the “emergency” at the end of the poem presumably referring back to the mundane “long life lived in that pause where a guest studies his ice cubes”: “If you have … built plot and theme/and finally setting sun/onto the flat earth of chessboards,/then to die on contemporary furniture/with John Webster’s antique jive on your lips,/after a long life lived in that pause/where a guest studies his ice cubes/and listens to the room tick,/would rinse the larger stillness with whole moments lost in yawns”. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. i love david berman’s songwriting, but he’s able to link disparate images more effectively with an instrumental backing.First, the title itself evokes the concept of what “Cassette country” would be… it made me think of things like mix tapes, old radios, and the row of cassettes one would have on their own cassette shelf. So, if you’re a pragmatic reader and not a poet, you’re probably going to ask: OK, but what is all this stuff about? However, the first poem in this collection, "Snow", I had read before; it may be a "greatest hit" of sorts for him, as there seem to be a lot of online references and commentary about it. First, not using the commas in “finally setting sun”, so that it means the sun is finally setting, rather than one that has built the plot that involves the setting sun… a subtle thing but one that changes the meaning for the best; “flat earth of chessboards” evokes both the reality that in a sense “chessboards” were, in game form, the depiction of war, but at the same time the idea that the upper classes perhaps played this game, among others, during their salons; “John Webster’s antique jive” then breaks the spell. He died in Park Slope, I was there just a few days before, visiting friends, wandering around, soaking in the beauty of a part of America I have come to really love in my later years.

He graduated from the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas, the University of Virginia, and the University of Massachusetts.For example, Berman has a poem titled ‘The Moon’ which consists of these fascinating and powerful images of people finding their way through life and its absurdities then ends with the line ‘ and the moon, I forgot to mention the moon. Hearing that David Berman is gone really stung today, not just because the way his poetry, music and lyrics have had a large impact on me throughout my life--particularly in hard times, but mostly because he was such a bright light while enduring his own personal struggles that eventually became too much for him. Certainly one could make up a story to connect these disparate images/phrases, but shouldn't it be the poet's job to help out in this process? I saw Silver Jews play back in 2005, a lifetime ago, and I feel fortunate to have seen Berman perform his music at least once, music which has been some of my very favorite since I was a teenager, music and lyrics that really meant the world to me, and created a very specific world for me and many people I know.

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