New work from one of the most compelling and transformative writers of the contemporary prose poem
What is it to feel nostalgia, to be skeptical of it yet cleave intently to the complex truths of feeling and thought? In a series of 64 gorgeous, ramifying, unsettling prose poems addressing late-twentieth- and twenty-first century experience and its discontents, The Ruins of Nostalgia offers a strikingly original exploration of the misunderstood phenomenon of nostalgia as both feeling-state and historical phenomenon. Each poem, also titled The Ruins of Nostalgia, is a kind of lyrical mini-essay, playful, passionate, analytic. Some poems take a location, memory, conceit, or object as their theme. Throughout the series, the poems recognize and celebrate the nostalgias they ironize, which are in turn celebrated and then ironized again. Written often in the fictional persona of the first-person plural, The Ruins of Nostalgia explores the rich territory where individual response meets a collective phenomenon.
The Ruins of Nostalgia 13
Where once there had been a low-end stationery store minded by an elderly beauty queen, there was now a store for high-end espresso machines minded by nobody. Where once there had been an illegal beer garden in a weedy lot, there was now a complex of luxury lofts with Parisian-style ivory façades. Where once there had been a bookstore and a bike shop and a bakery, there was now a wax museum for tourists. Where once there had been an empty lot there was now a building. Where once there had been an empty lot there was now a building. Where once there had been an empty lot there was now a building. Where once there had been an empty lot there was now a building. Where once there had been farms there were now subdivisions. Where once there had been subdivisions there were now sub-subdivisions. We lived in a sub-subdivision of a subdivision. We ourselves had become subdivided—where once we had merely been of two minds. * Where once there had been a river there was now a road. A vocal local group had started a movement to break up the road and "daylight" the river, which still flowed, in the dark, underneath the road. * Could we daylight the farms, the empty lots, the stationery store, the elderly beauty queen, the city we moved to? Was it still flowing somewhere, under the luxury lofts, deliquescing in the dark, inhabited by our luxury selves, not yet subdivided, because not yet whole? * Could we daylight the ruins of nostalgia?
"This deeply intelligent book is a work of emotional and intellectual archeology revealing the changes wrought on two cities by the not-so-invisible hand of the market. Reading it, we see a bit of what Benjamin's Angel of History must see as he is blown backwards into the future."~Rae Armantrout, author of Finalists
"'The ruins of nostalgia': a spur, a goad, a refrain, an environment, a mode of critique and homage. Stonecipher offers here both a hauntology and a melancholy celebration. This is also a sly and funny book, a brilliant new chapter in her distinctive, resonant lyrico-critical project. Stonecipher is the most compelling and transformative writer of the contemporary prose poem in English. Anecdote, vignette, ekphrasis, earworm, micro-essay, satire, incantation, griefwork: all here. This book cements Stonecipher's singular status as a poetic archaeologist and chronicler of our modernity."~Maureen N. McLane, author of My Poets
"Most of us will reach a certain point in our living where if we can't figure out how and where to place our nostalgia it will completely overwhelm us. Donna Stonecipher's masterful solution is to build reflexive spaces for our memories, for what we've lost or what's been destroyed, for what's been so altered it's unrecognizable. She softens the blow of time and change by finding a way to tell all our stories at once, by compressing the nearly unbearable presence of our ruins into exquisitely sculpted prose passages and thinking architectures that radiate intelligence, charm, and mercuriality. This is a book I want to always be reading."~Renee Gladman, author of One Long Black Sentence
"Stonecipher is a master of the prose poem, a hybrid form that, in the words of literary scholar Jeremy Noel-Tod, 'drives the reading mind beyond the city limits'... Stonecipher takes the idea of nostalgia, which originally meant a kind of homesickness, and examines it with irony and earnestness."~Unknown Reviewer, Exberliner