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Author: Dan Coffey

The Final Blurblr!

This miniseries of a column has been a blast to write, but how much can be written about blurbs before redundancy sets in? I am grateful to Real Pants for allowing me to go down this short avenue and explore the nature of the blurb. Leave them laughing, someone said, so here are the blurbs from Bernadette Mayer’s book The Ethics of Sleep (Trembling Pillow Press, 2011). Thanks for reading, all!...

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Beat Blurbs

Commentary on the poetry of Elise Cowen is all but missing from the blurbs on the back of her posthumous collection Poems and Fragments (Ahsahta Press, 2014). When she is referenced, the style and quality of her work are often downplayed in favor of the importance of her role as a feminist (or at least a symbol of “second-wave feminism”) within the Beat Generation. A bookstore browser who flipped the book over would find precious little about what’s contained within its pages—its strengths and peculiarities. Tony Trigilio did an admirable job in researching, collecting, and doing all the dirty...

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Write Yr Own Blurb! Or, The Blurblr Is Under the Weather

One of the dangers of being The Blurblr, it turns out, is that you might get strep throat. When you’re sick, you just can’t push your mind where you want it to go. I will say that it’s been a pleasure doing this column for the past month and I look forward to many more Blurblrs. In fact, a few surprises are already on hold in Sublurbia. But I will leave you with this challenge. Neither Mary Ruefle’s Trances of the Blast (Wave Books) nor the anthology published by Les Figues, I’ll Drown My Book, have anything in the way of...

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Blurbs Taking Soundings

“Welcome to my / hyperstability.” – Amish Trivedi, Sound/Chest Amish Trivedi’s new book, Sound/Chest (Coven Press, 2015), takes as its muse a disused card catalog cabinet at the University of Iowa Library. While one might be eager to mine the contents of the cabinet for poetic inspiration, Trivedi allows himself the label markers on the drawers of the catalog as sufficient points of inspiration. Thus, we see poems with titles that reflect the beginnings and endings of the contents of the catalog, like “Study / Karma” and “Desirous / Actions.” Trivedi notes in the afterword that, a mere month...

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Evolution of a Blurb

In 1989, Tender Buttons Press published their first book, Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets. There was no back-cover blurb or text of any sort, just a striking abstract image of blue on black. There was, however, a note by Mayer in the text at the end of the book, explaining how the collection of sonnets came to be. This note was cannibalized as a blurb for the 25th anniversary reprinting of the book (with extra material). Last year, Tender Buttons reissued the book. The colors are still a mixture of blue and black, but much more conducive to printing on the...

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Flaming Blurbscapes

  Intrepid poetic landscaper John Gallaher decided to buck the trend of getting blurbs from fellow poets for the back cover of his latest collection. Instead, he turned to the world of music, and so In a Landscape (BOA Editions, 2014) sports blurbs from The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay, both talented and left-field songwriters. I asked John about this break with tradition, and the resulting interview appears below Coyne’s and Barzelay’s blurbs. Wayne Coyne: Like all curious and worried (not neurotic) artists, Gallaher would rather communicate psychically . . . but like all of us he...

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The Censor Is Rested

Like that aging new kid on the block—book trailers—back cover blurbs have become a genre unto themselves. Or at least it’s fun to read them that way—as prose poems that catch the blurber trying to write something positive about the work that is at once personal and universal. Some blurbs are dreamy and tangential, others pull no punches and opt for brevity. The Blurblr will be looking at all kinds of blurbs with a stare and a wink, considering blurbs as discrete works of art as well as looking at the book being talked up to see how the blurb...

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Do Poets Dig Radiohead?

Jill Alexander Essbaum: I like the one song Thom Yorke sings with PJ Harvey. But that’s pretty much it. I always thought there was too much thinking involved in listening to them. Elisa Gabbert: Sure, I like the band Radiohead, but I’ve never bought any of their “records.” I’ve had an especially soft spot for “Fake Plastic Trees” ever since I saw a drunk (female) bartender sing it at a karaoke bar a couple years ago; it was very beautiful. John Gallaher: I listen to Radiohead about as much as I listen to any band. It started with OK Computer for me, at...

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