Marvin Bell

Marvin Bell’s uninhibited imagination and often gritty curiosity have always taken on wildly diverse subjects. In these new poems he ventures far and near, from war in the Middle East and famine in Sudan, to surfing in Hawaii and life in Catatonia. In Rampant, the ancient Greeks are at the horizon, the crab boats are tethered to the pier, Louis Braille is being re-entombed, Vaccination Day has arrived, and parasites discuss us in the future. Bell has said he “likes ideas to have a little dirt on their shoes.” By the conclusion of Rampant, his shoes are well-traveled. The suite, “Journal of the Posthumous Present,” was commissioned by the Getty Research Institute and featured on the cover of American Poetry Review. Remarkable for its formal approach and its socio-philosophical investigation, it is simultaneously groundbreaking and characteristic of this unique poet’s long, distinguished career.

ISBN: 9781556592065

Format: Hardcover

About the Author

Marvin Bell, author of twenty-three books of poetry and essays, has been called “an insider who thinks like an outsider,” and his writing has been called “ambitious without pretension.” Reviewing The Book of the Dead Man for The Georgia Review, Judith Kitchen noted: “These new books by Marvin Bell are doing to poetry what has occasionally been done before—sending it into new and original territory. Bell has redefined poetry as it is being practiced today.” His latest books are After …

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“When Marvin Bell, in his excellent new collection of poems, writes the totally characteristic line ‘His spine quivers like a long quill, quite like it,’ it’s worth considering what that ‘quite like it’ might be doing there. Verbally and rhythmically it functions as a sort of heart murmur, a shrug or flutter after the main pulse of the line. This is Bell’s territory in miniature: echo, aftermath, a looking backward through the veil of things… As a poet in the office of student or historian of consciousness, Bell performs beautifully, like a less sleek Wallace Stevens… This is sympathy, the real thing.” —New York Times Book Review

“A resurgent lyric voice marks Bell’s first all-new collection since the ‘Dead Man’ personal poems of the 1990s… Bell’s speaker pulls himself up into a high, dim realm of intelligence, hard to paraphrase and willfully poetical.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A]stonishingly smart and evocative… his best book, a major contribution to our poetry… a book of truly visionary sweep.” —Prairie Schooner

“For a man of literature who has authored 18 books, Bell dispenses truth in Rampant by not attempting to claim sole ownership. But it is there, carried by the art of poetry and being blown about like ashes on the wind.” —Home News Tribune

“Iowa’s first… poet laureate returns with a brief but inspired collection.” —Library Journal

“A resurgent lyric voice… ” —Publishers Weekly

“The fine poet… produces a lucid and affecting collection of real world poems, often enlivened by wisdom and humor.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“When a major poet comes out with an exceptional book of poetry, we are inclined to think of that book as a culmination, but insofar as such estimates have about them an air of tragic finality, I’ll call Marvin Bell’s Rampant instead a book of culmination without end.” —William Olsen, Shenandoah

“Bell’s poems are… poems of intellectual bite, of intricate philosophical commitment, yet they don’t turn their backs on the emotional fullness of everyday human concerns. [They] are a kind of deepening creation of a very signature style.” —Albert Goldbarth, Wichita Eagle

“Marvin Bell has the largest heart since Walt Whitman… Bell’s determination to address historical atrocities and to expose their perpetrators is admirable.” —Harvard Review

“Bell’s poems, beyond their formal mastery, constitute an admirable project whose interrogations run deep.” —Poetry

“Bell has redefined poetry as it is being practiced today.” —Georgia Review

“[Marvin Bell’s poetry] will fascinate those interested in seeing what language can sometimes do in the hands of an expert.” —Booklist