From one of our finest poets comes a collection about time—about memory, remembrance, and how the past makes itself manifest in the world.
Called “the poet of things” by Richard Howard, Don Bogen understands the ways objects hold history, even if they’ve grown obsolescent, even when they’ve been forgotten. So objects—rendered in cinematic detail—fill these poems. A desk, a mailbox, a house delivering its own autobiography. Hospitals: the patients who have passed through, the buildings that have crumbled. And, in a longer view, the people who survive in what they left behind: Thom Gunn, Charles Dickens, and the pre-Columbian architects who designed the great earthworks of Ohio two thousand years ago.
Songs, ephemeral by nature but infinitely repeatable, run throughout the collection. “What did they tell me, all those years?” Bogen writes. Immediate Song offers us a retrospective glance that is at once contemplative and joyous, carefully shaped but flush with sensuous observation: a paean to what is both universal and fleeting.
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Praise and Prizes
“From its stunning long poem ‘On Hospitals,’ to its unflinching view of life ‘in the twilight of empire,’ to its quiet, deft, and subtly lyrical ‘song’ poems, Immediate Song is at once an extended elegy, a meditation on time, and a hard-won articulation of the largeness of small moments. Simultaneously ambitious and understated, these poems are unmistakably of today’s America, even as they mine the timeless concerns of loss and memory. Bogen is a brilliant and singular poet—wise yet unassuming, sharp yet unpretentious—with much to teach us about the complexities of living in the world.”
“Don Bogen’s haunting new book is a sustained meditation on the tension between transience and memory that we experience as time: ‘You are in there and it is all gone and there is nothing I can’t remember,’ he writes. Rich in observed and remembered detail, the work creates an immediacy that is deeply infused with historical and social awareness. From the elegance of extended discourse to the spareness of song, these poems resonate with exquisite beauty and wisdom.”
“What are we to do with grief and with all actual, abiding concerns when modernity steals such things away into labyrinthine media and into Acherons of bad, banal discourse? At such moments, an instance of true feeling becomes heroic. At such moments, memory becomes the most splendid resistance. In Immediate Song, Don Bogen is bold to say ‘Permanent’ (as in Love) and ‘True’ (as in Turquoise and Poplar). These are poems of exquisite reproach, and they may well save the day.”
“Energy and elegy suffuse the landscapes of Don Bogen’s poems in Immediate Song. The ‘song’ poems are literally musical while bracingly modern. A long poem in sections on hospitals extends the genre of that subject in American poetry, moving smoothly from acutely observed details to revelations gained through painful experience. Metaphors ring accurate and new. Bogen’s meditative realism reveals the ordinary and familiar to us in ways we had not articulated for ourselves.”