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BOOKS

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ADVANCED PRAISE for Meta Meta Make-Belief

Poems in the voice of Philip Seymour Hoffman adopting the personae of real and imagined people. Poems in the voice of Marc McKee adopting the persona of Philip Seymour Hoffman adopting the personae of real and imagined people. Poems in the voice of Marc McKee adopting the persona of a Marc McKee-like speaker adopting the persona of Philip Seymour Hoffman adopting the personae of real and imagined people. Poems in the mind of a reader imagining themselves invited into the mind of Marc McKee adopting the persona of a Marc McKee-like speaker adopting the persona of Philip Seymour Hoffman adopting the personae of real and imagined people. Poems in the mind of a reader imagining themselves as some other reader imagined by Marc McKee to be themselves imagining themselves invited into the mind of Marc McKee adopting the persona of a Marc McKee-like speaker adopting the persona of Philip Seymour Hoffman adopting the personae of real and imagined people.

—Kathryn Nuernberger, author of The End of Pink

 

Marc McKee’s Meta Meta Make-Belief delivers his awareness of our awareness of the fictions we tell ourselves, the ones we perhaps too reverently call ‘memory’ or ‘history’ or ‘biography.’ McKee lays these out in their countless, little, linguistic pieces. His poems are frenetic with nostalgia and reference, offering hints and glimpses into this life and that one, but as in a Cubist painting, everything arrives in facets and shards and all at once as if lyric confession itself is  born of little more than the mixed-up, gorgeous disaster of language: “I was a spark ferried by a catastrophe of wind / then I was a little girl who loved the Beatles more // than dessert’s inverted chandeliers. / I pawed at the monster // slicking up the spooked conduit of my neck / then stirred frantic, unwrecked, a little boy // in a little red incorrigible wagon…” This is the part of the story where we realize these rich, playful poems might be exactly right about language, living, and make-believing. For this, I am grateful to have them. 

—Jaswinder Bolina, author of Phantom Camera

 

Hi. You probably don’t know me, but this blurb is that moment when you’re scanning the back of a book, looking for a hook that will lead you inside to something you really need. But then you realize the person who’s written the blurb—me—isn’t someone you’ve ever heard of, or they’re not the literary flavor of the week, or maybe you genuinely don’t like their work. Maybe you genuinely don’t like them… Well, this is that moment, and we’ve both been here before. It’s a little uncomfortable, but often that’s the case with things that are true. What I’m saying is… I really need you to read this book, because it is in fact something you really need to read. Really. Please. 

—Matt Hart, author of Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless

Imagine, if you will, a robot, a little language machine programmed to process hurt—your exact grief—by naming it, until it has no sting. Imagine an elegy for Phillip Seymour Hoffman delivered from the persona of Phil Parma, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character in Magnolia, over Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s body, like a treatise on hearing and healing another human. If you can imagine the antic mix of Ultra-Talk and artifice, a spiral notebook’s wide-open ardor, and POV script filled to the brim with “lust and shame / and real beauty and the feverish, / trembling trust you get from puppies / or babies, anybody truly new,” you need this book more than you think. Simultaneously searing and sensitively tuned, McKee’s fourth collection, Meta Meta Make-Belief is both diagnosis and remedy for “your despair which is always becoming / another version of itself / or bulging into an altogether / altogether else.”

Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer

PRAISE for Consolationeer

In Consolationeer, lines soar beyond their bounds, turning sense into vector and idea to a winged thing. The end of the world comes just before daylight and love is simultaneously particular and apocalyptic, falling down in ashes around us. This is the crisis at its best. Consolationeer is Marc at his flyest. 

 —Amelia Gray, author of Isadora

 

Marc McKee’s superb third collection Consolationeer is a reminder of why he is one of the most thoughtful and wide-ranging poets putting in work out here. In these intricate poems, McKee holds onto the linguistic wit and musical pleasures of his previous collections, but has learned some other things along the way—about urgency and love, about inevitability and what it means to be on the cusp of permanence. “Nothing happens. / Which is to say an awful lot very nearly / happens” the speaker of “Lately Indesolate” tells us. These poems are full of happenings and almost happenings that show us that we are fortunate and full of luxury to be here right now, living in our slim spaces between necessity and beauty.  

 —Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke & Map to the Stars

  

Nobody writes like Marc McKee.  His voice is his own, as is his complexly word-deliberate, irrepressibly inventive manner.  The result in Consolationeer is a concurrently heartbreaking and delightful tour de force.  At the heart of this work is a deep passion, an exhilarating intelligence, and—beyond even these uncommon pleasures—an unshakeable compassion.  He is our most wise young poet. 

 —Scott Cairns, author of Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems

PRAISE for Bewilderness

In Marc McKee’s compelling new collection, Bewilderness, it’s not the past that’s a foreign country but the present—a world rendered strange to us because of the compounding forces of loss and tragedy, but also in the strangeness of ordinary events as seen through “special goggles” offering always a new vision into the heart of things. This is how the poet’s dazzling use of language transforms the world we have experienced into something extraordinary, where understudies rush to the fore/playing characters you recognize/but no longer know.

 —Natasha Trethewey, former Poet Laureate & author of Native Guard

 

Each of the poems in Marc McKee’s Bewilderness suggests a vigilant mind struggling to make sense of the shifting, unknowable landscapes of modern life. Concerned especially with the vagaries of perception and existential uncertainty, McKee writes with bravura, wonder, and anxious wit, longing for transcendence in a world that seems determined to resist it. “The score,” he tells us, looking nervously around him, 'was great and terrible. We almost loved everything.' These poems sizzle with energy, intelligence, and the kind of humane beauty that struggles to hold off the dark.

 —Kevin Prufer, author ofChurches 

 

Before we encounter even the first poem, Marc McKee offers us, in his title, Bewilderness, both the injunction and the condition of his book. “Who is carbon-based with stars for ancestors,” McKee writes, “and still not disappointed?” From the rapturous to the earthbound, the cerebral to the sensuous, McKee’s work thrills because of those edges he walks and often plunges from. This is a lush, wild tune of a collection, full of tanks and apples, human calamity and nearly super-human affections.

 —Kathy Fagan, author of Sycamore

PRAISE for Fuse

Able to crash with the best of jets, Marc McKee’s poems rise from their own stupendous and generous wreckage with the best that art can give us, the amazement of being alive, the onslaught of music and the suddenness of insight. Always explosive and lit, Fuse burns with the fury of a many-minded intelligence and an ever-expanding heart.

 —Dean Young, author of Bender: New and Selected Poems Shock By Shock
 

In his best poems (and there are many best poems in this book) Marc McKee achieves the impossible: his verse is quicker than life. There’s a wonderful gallop in these lines. The jetliner of poetry triumphs over local trains of everyday existence…

 —Adam Zagajewsk, author of Without End: New and Selected Poems & Unseen Hand

 

When experience accumulates so quickly we hardly have time to call it 'history,' there’s no 'safe side' to find our way to. But when a poet can describe the state we’re in like Marc McKee, it’s an indescribable relief. Fuse is lit with velocity and visible song—the singing so fierce and sweet and accurate we can bear the suspense and find in it a blessing.

 —Marie Howe, author of The Kingdom of Ordinary Time Magdalene

PRAISE for What Apocalypse?

McKee’s well-honed sense of irony and impressive wit cut through each poem at surprising angles, revealing the dark humor that lies just below the surface of our world’s end. From the opening line of “We Are All Going to Die and I Love You” (“The world is ending again”) to the last few words of “Electric Company” (“Your night comes swift to my dawn / like a desperate, wasteful kiss / that tells me we are still alive, / and won’t be”), What Apocalypse? presents us with the somewhat disturbing, occasionally humorous, and all-too-human implications of the reader’s presence at Armageddon.

 —Eric Weinstein, for Prick of the Spindle

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