Under World Arrest

Eshleman (Antiphonal Swing) here begins with an ars poetica that poses the question, “What is missing?” The question echoes throughout a sprawling collection. For this poet, our present age is marked by an absurd level of cruelty and violence; and poetry, if it is to address that at all, must rise to the same frenetic level. As he points out, “Look what men do to women. Why should art be less?” With such an intent in mind, one might anticipate a certain amount of moralizing. But Eshleman gives the volume a refreshingly bizarre array of imagery through which incidents like the Bosnian civil war are viewed. Intermixed with this are poems of beauty and humor-for instance, a waiter in Los Angeles introduces himself with “HI, my name’s Bruce, I’m your waiter,/ I tried to kill myself last night.” Though Eshleman’s language, owing much to the associative leaps of surrealism, is never pompous, some of his work does read like a Blakean proverb. No matter: he is a reverse prophet, returning to 13,000 B.C. to crouch in a cave of ancient paintings and describe our world on the wall.
Publishers Weekly

Clayton Eshleman was born in Indianapolis and educated at Indiana University. Along with publishing dozens of poetry collections and chapbooks, Eshleman founded and edited the poetry journals Caterpillar and Sulfur. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, a National Book Award in Translation, two grants from the NEA, three grants from the NEH, two Landon Translation Prizes from the Academy of American Poets, 13 NEA grants for Sulfur magazine, The Alfonse X. Sabio Award for Excellence in Translation, a Rockefeller Study Center residency in Bellagio, Italy, 2004, and a Hemmingway Translation Grant in 2015. He has lived in Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Peru, France, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, but has called Ypsilanti, Michigan, home since 1986. He is a Professor Emeritus of English at Eastern Michigan University.