"How well can we ever know the place we live in—the house, the neighborhood, the city, the moment? Is it possible to comprehend the way light, history, pianos, hawks, desire, trains, cruelty, red, Ben Franklin, faith, and baseball intersect in each fleeting second to create a place and time so particular in details it will never be repeated?," asks Michelle Salcido in a recent The Rumpus review of Litany for the City (BOA, 2012). "In his award-winning debut collection, Litany for the City, Ryan Teitman attempts a delicate and ambitious mapping of the self, the city, and the infinite connections that define and defy where one ends and the other begins ... Teitman’s litany is an act of both praise and of acute awareness of the beauty in the cities around and inside us." The Rumpus review quickly identifies the guiding question of Teitman's recent collection: "But what's our city made of?," while also drawing attention to the last section shift of the book. Teitman's poems evolve into "short untitled paragraphs tangled with imagery" as he continues to search for the city's pithy conglomerate. "This form literalizes the impossibility of clearly marking borders, almost as if that mapmaker has made countless maps of the city and all of them are true and all of them lead to and depend upon each other, and, most significantly, we need each one to discover where we are and where we are going." "Teitman maps the way only a poet can map, sketching in then blurring out the borders between inner and outer with each line. It is the poetic act of noticing that finds cathedrals everywhere. And language, repetition, is what holds it all together ... This book has a heart that goes beyond the strength of its crafting or imagery. It reminds us of what only poetry can do ... Read this book to renew that faith in words and in the abiding truth that there is nothing under the sky unworthy of our whole attention and fervent praise." Click here to read the full Rumpus review. Litany for the City is available at the BOA Bookstore.
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