The Violence of the Morning

Poems by Cal Bedient


"The Violence of the Morning maintains the force of a rushing river throughout. These poems and their figures have at their center a strategy of crisis. They implode with the precision and extravagance of life, maintaining stunning levels of complexity only a consummate craft could sustain. Again and again, Cal Bedient enters the elegy in order to render anew sorrow as we have lived it. 'A death,' he writes, 'a death is not a goodbye, not shallow smaller but a larger flickering.' There is nothing that these poems disallow. Grief is filtered through the absurd, the obscene, and the impossible distances that define intimacy. Joy is achieved in the beauty and Steinian playfulness that only a mind engaged to the world can celebrate. Bedient understands that man is an animal defined by passion, frivolity, failure and rage. Rarely is language so exquisitely taken to our depths."
—Claudia Rankine

"There's no one writing like Cal Bedient. These poems are so risky and so intimately imagined: earnest, toyful, plucky, undaunted-strange, fantastic, wyrd. In these poems there is real heart and an insatiable wit as well. They are full of astonishment and desolation. To the spirit bold enough and sweet enough to have written these: I praise him. I praise him."
—Lucie Brock-Broido

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This innovative new collection of poems by Cal Bedient is Nabokovian in its artifice, its fluency, and its scope—from Kant to Jaqueline Du Pres's Elgar, from Mother Goose to the Upanishads, from poems after the paintings of Corot, Monet, Matisse, and Klee to extended inquiries into the complexities of sexual and other relationships. The poems take up the task of asking what joy is available in the dark and terrifying waves of disease, broken love, and death. The persona voicings are varied, odd, and memorable; and the poems vary widely in their feel, their rhythm, their typology. Everywhere the language is outrageously wet and vivid—sliced orange language. Though the poems often take the form of couplets, quatrains, or some other repeatable structure, the results are daringly unexpected, irrational, compelling, astonishingly beautiful, and moving.
Page count: 112 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $19.95

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Cal Bedient is the author of several books, including a previous collection of poems, Candy Necklace, and works of criticism such as He Do the Police in Different Voices: The Waste Land and Its Protagonist and In the Heart's Last Kingdom: Robert Penn Warren's Major Poetry. He is a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.