By Reason of Breakings

Poems by Andrew Zawacki


"Zawacki combines the disciplined perception of a naturalist with the inspired perception of a poet. The elegiac and prophetic, the spartan adherence to specific detail, the vivid understanding of words as events, all recall Thoreau. But this 21st century author must grapple with a paradoxical idea of wilderness littered with petrochemical and astrophysical artifacts, a geography of the imagination where 'waves are stammering apocrypha and graffiti.' By Reason of Breakings is the work of one of our most gifted young American poets."
—Susan Howe

"Combines verbal energy and fluency to a degree rarely found in first books. Sometimes it uses a language that suspends itself with such assurance that it makes a certainty of uncertainty. Sometimes it presents and erases itself in the same instant. Its paradoxes challenge experience, its truths are at odds with the obvious. Everywhere one feels the sweep of its cadences, its powers of invention, its amazing and subtle intelligence."
—Mark Strand

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By Reason of Breakings, Andrew Zawacki's first book of poetry, overwhelms and silences by virtue of its extremely austere beauty. In highly wrought lyrics, prose poems, fragments of apocrypha, and splintered efforts at song, this volume is forceful and haunted by doubt. Each intimate and restrained line is a glimpse at a wisdom that defies paraphrase, each image carefully chosen and constructed. Zawacki's language summons and invites and is almost menacing in its delicate intensity: "Weight is the syntax of filling empty spaces: scalpels and expired tissue fall, but fire rises to fever and sere." While pursuing an explanation for the disappearance of God and for the denouement of a love affair, and exploring the failure of language to compensate or console, these poems maintain their sublime power and elegance.
Page count: 88 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Andrew Zawacki is co-editor of the international journal Verse, a reviewer for the Boston Review and the Times Literary Supplement, and an editor of the anthology Afterwards: Slovenian Writing, 1945-1995. A former Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, he studies in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.