Return to the city of white donkeys Poems

James Tate, 1943-2015

Book - 2004

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2nd Floor 811.54/Tate Due Dec 19, 2023
New York : Ecco 2004.
Main Author
James Tate, 1943-2015 (author)
1st ed
Physical Description
173 p.
  • Long-Term Memory
  • The Memories of Fish
  • The Beautiful Shoeshine
  • Never Enough Darts
  • It Happens Like This
  • Brittle Family Photographs
  • The Man Without Leather Breeches
  • The All but Perfect Evening on the Lake
  • The Florist
  • Lost River
  • Making the Best of the Holidays
  • Their Number Became Thinned
  • Lust for Life
  • The Incense Man
  • The Lost Chapter
  • Bernie at the Pay Phone
  • Suburban Bison
  • In Search Of
  • Banking Rules
  • The Animists
  • The Healing Ground
  • The Promotion
  • A Sound Like Distant Thunder
  • A Cyclops Would Have Been Better
  • Of Whom Am I Afraid?
  • The Camel
  • Condolence
  • Silver Queen
  • The Ravine
  • The Bleeding Mind
  • Etiquette
  • The Greater Battle
  • The Fragrant Cloud
  • Hunger
  • Sheldon's Derring-Do
  • Half-Eaten
  • Jules to the Rescue
  • The Found Penny
  • Holy Saturday
  • The Formal Invitation
  • A More Prosperous Nation
  • Mr. Twiggy
  • Intruders
  • Bounden Duty
  • Seven Sauce Lobster of Paradise
  • Shiloh
  • The Interview
  • In a Past Life
  • Not Long Ago, Milk Cows Ruminated There
  • Beavertown
  • Love Child
  • Sleepy Visitation
  • Elysium
  • Why We Must Sleep
  • I Never Meant to Harm Him
  • A Trout in the Tam o'Shanter
  • Swoon
  • The Historical Society
  • The Wild Turkey
  • Directions to the Peace Pagoda
  • The Rules
  • Wendell
  • The Survivalists
  • The Rally
  • The Case of Aaron Novak
  • The Rebel
  • The Harp
  • Kung Fu Dancing
  • Special Protection
  • The Cobbler's Assistant
  • The Special Guest
  • Faultfinding Tour
  • The Loon
  • The New Mountain
  • Red Dirt
  • Lost Geese
  • The Long Journey Home
  • Kingdom Come
  • Conventional Medicine
  • How the People Live
  • The Aphid Farmers
  • The Visiting Scholar
  • The Reenactors
  • The Boy Band
  • Things Change
  • The Sinking Boat
  • The Radish
  • Affliction
  • Bringing in the New Year
  • The Petition
  • Trail of Miracles
  • The Prehensile Tail
  • The Reluctant Surrender of an Important Piece of Evidence
  • Song of the Nightingales
  • Return to the City of White Donkeys
  • The Raven Speaks
  • The Great Horned Owl Has Flown
  • The Nameless Ones
  • The Bus Stop
  • Voyage to an Outlying Island
  • Macaroni
  • The Coolest Thing
  • A Clean Hit
  • The Kennedy Assassination
  • The Investors
  • The Vacant Jungle
  • A Sunday Drive
  • Being Present at More Than One Place at a Time
  • The Search for Lost Lives
Review by Booklist Review

Tate has authored 13 poetry books and received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In his new collection he presents prose poems with enticing subject matter stretching from reincarnation to Emily Dickinson to deciphering bird-speak. Taking a disarmingly comicstance, Tate masters a narrative prose poem form that is all his own and that will appeal to a wide range of readers. The majority of his poems are downright brilliant in their wit and subtle commentary. Tate presents ingenious scenarios, like watching an angel on the street playing a harp, with the minimalist expertise of a great short-short story writer. Though united in form and voice, the poems are unique on their own and, together, read like humorously philosophical tales. But these are serious poems beneath their comedy. Just beware, with more than 100 poems in the book, these are best consumed like rich chocolate: in small doses. --Janet St. John Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Tate's influence on younger American poets (both as writer and mentor) stands near its apex, but this 14th book of his own poems presents the genial master at less than his best. Tate won the Yale Younger Poets prize for his strong, sad, lyrical debut, The Lost Pilot, but earned fame in the 1970s and '80s for bitter humor and homey pomo pastiche, set in a prosey free verse where the linebreaks can seem as arbitrary as the situations in which his speaker finds himself. The poems reflect jaded amusement, hope and occasional despair as the poet makes his way through a dangerous world, "contemplating the/ life of the postmodern buffalo" or "the public aspect of breast exposure," pursuing the resurrection of Eleanor Roosevelt, "holding this really exemplary radish," or watching "masked men with titanium pincers slide/ silently through the blackened halls." With few formal challenges, but with plenty of jokes, the poems can recall the comedian Steven Wright, or the pages McSweeney's. If their sheer quantity can make them seem formulaic, Tate's twisted scenarios provoke and amuse as much as they ever did; though they may tire longtime followers, these poems could find new admirers among people who don't often read poets at all. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In this delightful collection of parables, Tate, America's own "home-grown surrealist," shows that he can provide evocative commentary on the moods of contemporary American suburbia: "Justine called on Christmas day to say that she/ was thinking of killing herself. I said, `We're/ in the middle of opening presents, Justine.'" Tate proceeds from the world of the ordinary to strange landscapes in which "grocery shopping can be such a mysterious/ business." Many poems attain a certain fairy-tale quality while concentrating on everyday events ("God! This town/ is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery. And I'm just a child playing cops"). Tate's poetry works best when readers are willing to accept this half-mundane, half-magical world on its own terms. Those who are less cooperative may be irked by Tate's shift from the intense lyricism of his earlier work to the more spare, almost prosaic tone here. That's a little unfair: Tate's new work appears to be deeply rooted in the tradition of parable in poetry, and it takes a great deal of imaginative talent to fill a book with examples of such variety and scope. Likely to bring new audiences to the world of contemporary poetry, this is recommended for all collections.-Ilya Kaminsky, Writer in Residence, Phillips Exeter Acad., Exeter, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Return to the City of White Donkeys Poems Long-Term Memory I was sitting in the park feeding pigeons when a man came over to me and scrutinized my face right up close. "There's a statue of you over there," he said. "You should be dead. What did you do to deserve a statue?" "I've never seen a statue of me," I said. "There can't be a statue of me. I've never done anything to deserve a statue. And I'm definitely not dead." "Well, go look for yourself. It's you alright, there's no mistaking that," he said. I got up and walked over where it was. It was me alright. I looked like I was gazing off into the distance, or the future, like those statues of pioneers. It didn't have my name on it or anything, but it was me. A lady came up to me and said, "You're looking at your own statue. Isn't that against the law, or something?" "It should be," I said, "but this is my first offense. Maybe they'll let me off light." "It's against nature, too," she said, "and bad manners, I think." "I couldn't agree with you more," I said. "I'm walking away right now, sorry." I went back to my bench. The man was sitting there. "Maybe you're a war hero. Maybe you died in the war," he said. "Never been a soldier," I said. "Maybe you founded this town three hundred years ago," he said. "Well, if I did, I don't remember it now," I said. "That's a long time ago," he said, "you coulda forgot." I went back to feeding the pigeons. Oh, yes, founding the town. It was coming back to me now. It was on a Wednesday. A light rain, my horse slowed . . . The Memories of Fish Stanley took a day off from the office and spent the whole day talking to fish in his aquarium. To the little catfish scuttling along the bottom he said, "Vacuum that scum, boy. Suck it up, that's your job." The skinny pencil fish swam by and he said, "Scribble, scribble, scribble. Write me a novel, needle- nose." The angel executed a particularly masterful left turn and Stanley said, "You're no angel, but you sure can drive." Then he broke for lunch and made himself a tuna fish sandwich, the irony of which did not escape him. Oh no, he wallowed in it, savoring every bite. Then he returned to his chair in front of the aquarium. A swarm of tiny neons amused him. "What do you think this is, Times Square!" he shouted. And so it went long into the night. The next morning Stanley was horribly embarrassed by his behavior and he apologized to the fish several times, but they never really forgave him. He had mocked their very fishiness, and for this there can be no forgiveness. The Beautiful Shoeshine There was no one in the airport. I couldn't believe it, so I walked down hallway after hallway. No passengers, no airline personnel, no one in the little shops and restaurants. It was spooky. I had a plane to catch. I had to get to Chicago. But actually that was a minor detail compared to the overwhelming sense of otherworldliness I was experiencing being alone in this huge terminal, which is always bustling with hordes of travelers and employees. Finally, I saw a shoeshine man sitting alone on his stand. I walked up to him and he smiled and said, "Shoeshine, Mister?" "Sure," I said. "You must be having kind of a slow day," I added. "I'm doing fine," he said. "It just seems the more people fly the harder it is to see them." I looked around. Some blurs were dashing for the gates, others were asking the time in high squeaky voices. It must be my fault, just not flying enough. Return to the City of White Donkeys Poems . Copyright © by James Tate. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Return to the City of White Donkeys: Poems by James Tate All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.