Visiting Hours at the Color Line
Often the most recognized, even brutal, events in American history are segregated by a politicized, racially divided “Color Line.” But how do we privately experience the most troubling features of American civilization? Where is the Color Line in the mind, in the body, between bodies, between human beings?
Selected for the National Poetry Series by Dan Beachy-Quick, Ed Pavlić’s Visiting Hours at the Color Line attempts to complicate this black and white, straight-line feature of our collective imagination, and to map its nonlinear, deeply colored timbres and hues. From daring prose poems to powerful free verse, Pavlić’s lines are musically infused, bearing tones of soul, R & B, and jazz. They link the influence of James Baldwin with a postmodern consciousness descended from Samuel Beckett, tracking the experiences of American characters through situations both mundane and momentous. The resulting poems are intense, ambitious, and psychological, making Visiting Hours at the Color Line a poetic tour de force.
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Praise and Prizes
“The abundant second-person addresses of Visiting Hours at the Color Line signal these remarkable poems are in conversation with us: our culture, our history, our ghosts. Ed Pavlić’s is a Hopkins-like sprung rhythm of not only syntax, but edifying consciousness pulsing in a language of idiomatic lyrics and impressions. Even after enraptured multiple readings, I am incapable of succinctly praising this poet’s immense talent and this new book’s urgent, beautiful complexities.”
“Visiting Hours at the Color Line opens itself, poem by poem, to those interruptions of mere self that mark the awakening not only to our ethical life, but to our erotic one as well. These poems don’t prove, but play within the fundamental suspicion that ethics and erotics are one. It is a tune we need to hear: one that lulls where sleep rightly beckons, and one that wakes as exactly where it is we must be awake.”
“Ever since I discovered Ed Pavlić’s poetry, I find myself measuring other authors against the steady stream of his voice, and the heart and politics one finds in his short and long lines—the very sound of freedom. There are two or three writers one always looks forward to reading, always, and Pavlić, especially in his new book, Visiting Hours at the Color Line, is one of them.”
“To fully enjoy the sweet complexity and gravity-defying genre blending in Visiting Hours at the Color Line, one has to first put aside fears of postmodern tricksterism and fake-outs. Inside Ed Pavlić’s staunch, idiomatic phrasings and syntactic figurations is a heart bursting with sharp observations and a desire to read the nonverbal signs that point to and record our supreme humanity. Such poetry is deeply personal and masterfully arranged.”
“Ed Pavlić turns to canonical images and tropes but adds blues, jazz, jargon, and slang in a distinctly contemporary and vigorous American idiom. . . . The final long piece, part of the series of prose poems called ‘Verbatim,’ is marvelous. A dialogue, more play than poem, it is playful, reminiscent of Beckett but more explicitly philosophical. By itself it makes this entire intriguing collection worthwhile.”