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Charge, The
Patrick Donnelly
$14.00 paperback
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Charge, The
Patrick Donnelly

These intense and pristine lyrics by a poet living in the age of AIDS are surprising in their range of expression. Even while Donnelly takes his subject head-on without a shred of sentimentality or self-pity, this is not a dark book. His spiritual questioning deals not only with the fact of death, but also with the redemptive power of human love and the uplifting small joys of daily life.

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For Charge, The, Patrick Donnelly

 “In this ambitious first collection of poems, Patrick Donnelly asks questions for which there are no answers. He poses them precisely because there are no adequate responses, because rhetorical questions need to be asked and acknowledged, what we do know as important as what we don’t... A man leaves his dead lover’s dead computer on the sidewalk one year after his death in ‘Apologia Pro Vita Sua:’ ‘I don’t care / I lived this way, the windows open wide, / in summer the doors, anyone passing could see / and take what they wanted, and they did,’ suggesting that time allows us to discard things, but more importantly, allows us to choose to do so. In this is also Donnelly’s ars poetica. Here he announces how refreshingly ‘wide open’ he has made himself in these poems, how open to criticism and agreement and defamation, and from this openness he instructs us to take what we want, as from a lover now dead, to choose among sentiment over deaths from AIDS, from prayers, from anger, to take what we need to live our lives a little better and more easily, whatever that might be.”—Anna Ziegler in Saint Ann’s Review

“When the political forces and literary establishment attempt to divide us, segregating us into different aisles of the bookstore, making sure we don’t talk to one another, it is grand to find a writer who can speak about the riddles of life that transcend political and social boundaries...  [Donnelly] will not let us segregate or disengage ourselves. He asks in these elegiac poems to life that we begin to experience life as a gift. His book will bring joy back to our eyes. Take his arm and enjoy what he shows you. Listen to him because we can no longer do otherwise.”—Animus

“Patrick Donnelly’s book gives us an author who is wry, impulsive, rakish, and personable, offering us snippets of city life that overflow with longing, vitality and pain... Donnelly’s greatest strength may be his control of the pitch and inflection of his poems. We see it not just in the let’s-go-to-bed poems, but also in the poems of suffering and loss... The poet is not just some rueful roué, but something more complicated and human. Caught between God and God’s creation, he is the anchorite who never completely turns his back on this world, the angelic sybarite who never quite quits his conversation with God.”—Lee Rossi in 88: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry

“Such a complete and nuanced rendering of the many emotional connections we can have to a place, and how they become inseparable from each other, is a rare achievement... he has shown us a flawed and unjust world, but not before revealing the blessings that we can know in spite of those flaws, if not because of them. The charge he has accepted and now presses upon us demands that we learn how to face death and loss without letting them make us look for the easy, pure, and seemingly unalloyed truths that never fully honor the many manifestations of our love.”—Thomas March in Lambda Book Report

“Patrick Donnelly’s amazing book The Charge has something to do with electricity, with the intensity of lucid, urgent speech lighting up parts of our hearts and brains as poems are supposed to do, but it also has to do with a charge Donnelly has been given: a spiritual mission. This charge is to bear testimony to the realities, tensions, and intensities of living in his particular world and knowing that world must be transformed in order to reveal its spiritual significance. He reminds me, in this project, of Whitman, another passionate denizen of the Brooklyn that Donnelly hymns and inhabits. Donnelly has Whitman’s tenderness and that empathy for others Whitman counseled us to cherish as intensely as we cherished our carnal self-delight. I hear, throughout these poems, the gospels of passion and compassion. I hear an erotic humor Whitman would have aspired to had he been as free in body as he was in spirit. Donnelly writes of Eros and AIDS, grief and rage—and everything he writes is suffused with tenderness and intelligence, lucidity and courage. It is a book full of psalms of gratitude, and it is also a book bursting with prayers, many of them anguished. Are they answered? They are, as the best poems must be, their own answer, the answer of love.”—Gregory Orr

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