Literature & literary studies:

Vanishing Acts


Paperback / softback

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Vanishing Acts by Brian Barker

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In Vanishing Acts, Brian Barker cements his reputation as one of contemporary poetry's great surrealists. These prose poems read like dreams and nightmares, fables and myths. With a dark whimsicality, Barker explores such topics as extinction, power, class, the consequences of tyranny and war, and the ongoing destruction of the environment in the name of progress. A linked sequence of poems forms the book's backbone, with an oracular voice from the future heralding the return--or hoped for return--of common animals. Part lyrical odes, part creation myths, part excerpts from a bizarre guide for naturalists, these poems mix fact and fiction, science and fable to create an unsettling vision of a dystopian world stricken by extinction, one where the world's last catfish sleeps "in the shadow of a hydroelectric dam." The imaginative language and bizarre stories of these poems are perfectly suited to capture a world that no longer makes sense: a man who wears a toupee to hide an injury inflicted by secret police, a group of villagers who make a bad bargain with a land agent. The poems in Vanishing Acts straddle the comic and the tragic. They are by turns funny and haunting and ripe with scathing satire. They draw on the genres of speculative and science fiction as much as poetic traditions, and speak to the precarious state of man and the natural world in the twenty-first century.

Author Biography

Brian Barker is the author of two other books of poetry, The Animal Gospels and The Black Ocean (SIU Press, 2011). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Diagram, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, the Washington Post, the Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, and elsewhere. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Colorado Denver, where he is a poetry editor for the literary journal Copper Nickel.
Release date NZ
March 30th, 2019
Country of Publication
United States
Southern Illinois University Press
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