Through Michael Blumenthal’s eyes we gain a renewed, childlike wonder at everything from plants, trees, and relationships, to the most fundamental word in our vocabulary: AND. Blumenthal uses the conjunction—AND—to unify this new collection and to create an incantatory, sonorous rhythm to his work. The result is a book of poems-as-hymns-and-praises.
Stillness has its own ethos: a bird, terrified, on
its branch, does not tell jokes. But the human world
is filled with farts and cat-calls, with the bombast
of too many syllables uttered in vain, and how
shall we demonstrate to the hills that we are serious
in our self-importance, that we have been singing,
all these years, for the mere pleasure of listening
to our own voices? Slowly the river runs
between the beeches and oaks, the willow quivers
in the slightest of winds, and everywhere we look
something is beseeching us: silence silence
amid the deep, dismissive susurrus of the trees.
“Few new books of American poems have more unity—or more happiness—than the latest from Blumenthal: the law professor, memoirist, novelist (Dusty Angel) and psychotherapist has set himself the daunting task of depicting joy in all its varieties.” —Publishers Weekly
“Not since T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets has an American poet been able to combine so seamlessly the quest of the visionary with the beatific reality of a fallen yet redeemed humanity. These ambitious poems promise to unlock the spiritual potential of each and every modern reader. As such, they deserve to be read and read again.” —The Montserrat Review
“Blumenthal's new collection of poems, titled And, is the closest that the stoicism of Ecclesiastes will come to getting a 21st-century makeover. In it, there's a time to laugh and cry, scatter stones and gather them up, and all the rest.” —The Jewish Daily Forward