This collection spans twenty-five years in the career of this highly regarded poet. It features poems from the books Stars, Calling the Dead,When There Are No Secrets, and Against Dreaming, along with seventeen new poems.
Those who know C.G. Hanzlicek's work will be pleased the representative if severe selection of past poems. Those who are unfamilar with his writing will find that fully a third of The Cave: Selected and New Poems is new. The new work, in particular, recommends the poet's strengths: honesty, clarity, humor, and a singular gift for a natural and personable spoken idiom almost forgotten in contemporary poetry culture committed to the langauge of artifice. Hanzlicek's ear perfects not only his voice but the heart it listens to.
In his search for the 'one song' — a love of others and the world — Hanzlicek displays the range of lyric gifts for which his readers know him well. The Cave, in its relentless descent into the seen world, mandates, 'you may have to answer/ to this life.' Armed with these poems' uneasy certainties, we are ready for full engagement in any mission the mysteries of the world assign to us.
One feels everywhere the hurry and press of time passing in C. G. Hanzlicek's The Cave. The tick of a man's life, the turning of a day, the haste and waste of the seasons—time is the central designate in these first lines and opening gestures; as throughout the book, time becomes a measure, like a meter, of dignity and loss, and of language unfolding. From the original site, the Ur-cave, of Hanzlicek's vision to his most contemporary settings, we follow the accrual of damages, the 'parings,' the 'blind wishes' that seem so bleak or weak. But damages, if outlived, may yield wisdom. Here then is the amazement of an old man who 'made it'; here too, 'like a gift from the gods,' is hope and song. The Cave is a severe, beautiful harrowing—of line and form, of self, and of a body of work. It is an exacting selection of poems, most fit and most fine.
For over two decades C.G. Hanzlicek has been writing poems that speak to us of 'the seen world' and the morally ambiguous circumstances in which ordinary people encounter it. The Cave: Selected and New Poems offers us the best of this work, andf it is both a delight and a revelatiion. Whether writing about intimate one-way conversations with Mahler or the simple act of scrambling an egg for his daugher or the death of a close friend, Hanzlicek has the power to surprise in us a conviction that 'in the end, beyond the metaphors,/ We can't help loving life.' A poet who can do this needs to be read.
The Cave: Selected and New Poems covers 25 years of poetry by C.G. Hanzlicek, and shows how he honed his ear to the rhythms of everyday spech and the natural world.
C. G. Hanzlicek has been writing a visionary, unsettling poetry of need for several decades. With its short, narrative pacing, his poetry addresses many individuals as it reminds the speaker about the limits of human time. His life in California is a world of vast landscapes and political realities, where the mystery of a land under pressure is the stage for poetic wonder and absolution. To have a major poetry press gather Hanzlicek's work is an encouraging sign that our choices as readers have expanded.
Reading these poems is like taking a long walk with a friend. Enjoyable, and at times enlightening.
C.G. Hanzlicek received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1964 and a M.F.A. from the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1986. He is the author of seven books of poetry: Living in It, Stars (winner of the 1977 Devins Award for Poetry), Calling the Dead, A Dozen for Leah, When There Are No Secrets, Mahler: Poems and Etchings, and Against Dreaming. He has translated Native American songs, A Bird’s Companion, and poems from the Czech, Mirroring: Selected Poems of Vladimir Holan, which won the Robert Payne Award from the Columbia University Translation Center in 1985. Since 1966, he has been teaching at California State University, Fresno, where he is the director of the Creative Writing Program.learn more