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Jon Thompson - Strange Country

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Jon Thompson - Strange Country

Published October 2016. Paperback, 80pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins
ISBN 9781848614826 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

 
Fascinated by strangeness that’s made in the U.S.A.—its beliefs and organization, its affinity for violence and its elusive relationship with the past—Strange Country lyrically addresses itself to defining American landscapes/dreamscapes, and to their unaccountable beauty.
 
"In Strange Country Jon Thompson addresses the voices, amongst others, of ‘the traffic of fear’, and bids their speakers join the living. It is also an invitation to the reader to enter a specifically American poetry of the here-and-now. The accomplishment of Strange Country begins with the exact measure of its line and its discovered idiom in the face of what may well be termed the present contradictions of a strange country. What sustains that accomplishment is a poet’s attention to a ‘wide-open polyphony’ equal to the multiple realities of its subject. What strikes the reader is the poetic exploration of that country’s significant landscapes and locations. Here we find the places of a shared identity where history is disguised, lost or made into fun for all the family. This is a discovery conveyed in a poetry which not only discloses new meanings for these American places, and they are not those of their designers or inhabitants, but also bears the darker episodes of a history usually processed off the screen and page. In this sense the rumours of war elsewhere are shown to be homeward bound and the examination of the Chrysler building as an ode to capital, rendered as very solid flesh, ‘radiant in the night’, is a revelation. Despite everything however, revelation is the conclusive mode of Strange Country.  And through and beyond this delineation of casual brutality, of bad politics, of bad art and architecture unfit for human existence, Jon Thompson crucially raises a dancing flag for poetry itself, not least in the poem ‘To Paradise, I Give My Half-Forgotten Dreams’, a flagrant manifesto in favour of beauty. —Kelvin Corcoran

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