Chanties: An American Dream, by Eric Weiskott-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

Chanties: An American Dream, by Eric Weiskott

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Eric Weiskott
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Poetry, prose poetry, chapbook, 32 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

"Weiskott’s Chanties asks its reader to listen for the inheritance of settler colonial work songs “in the deep reach of the ikea forest.” The poems encourage a reader with “an unexamined experience of whiteness” to see a precarious present U.S. as situated in histories of violence. The poems anticipate that this reader will struggle, such that they may need to “gaze at the horizon if the nineteenth century makes you dizzy.” What’s so impressive about these poems is that they manage to be charming and often funny as they use a dazzling range of formal and lyrical tactics to insist that their reader link the inequitable present of U.S. racial capitalism, labor exploitation, and climate precarity to centuries of settler colonial logics."

—Davy Knittle

Chanties: An American Dream is a shipboard reverie about the American boat we’re all in. Prose poems, lists, and lyrics find their sea legs while musing on a photograph of a lover left on shore. In a contemporary moment when the deep reaches of the forest already belong to IKEA, the ocean beckons. “The depths turn electric.” Responding to the impasse of subjective expression in contemporary lyric theory, these poems are scored in a national “first-person choral.”

Inspiration comes from past and present voyagers on these waters: Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Allen Ginsberg, Elizabeth Willis, Claudia Rankine, Ben Lerner, and Solmaz Sharif. The epitaphic concluding poem monumentalizes literary missed connections, ships passing in the night. “Here lies all your scholarship. Here lies your poetry.”

Eric Weiskott is a poet and scholar of poetry and poetics. His poems appear in Fence, Texas Review, Exacting Clam, and Inverted Syntax. He lives in Massachusetts.