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The Sleep of Reason

The Sleep of Reason plunges us into a macabre world where good impulses bring on evil consequences—a world not unlike our own. In David Gewanter’s alternately delightful and startling poems, allegory comes alive and stalks a bookstore’s musty aisles, comedians eviscerate their families for a laugh, lovers love each other for withholding affection, and theaters collapse on audiences hungry for spectacle. Amidst such surreal subjects, Gewanter’s delicate musicality and keen sense of humor sparkle; his inquisition regarding a fallen world becomes a dark comedy of errors haunted by the most unexpected characters—from JFK Jr. to Tacitus, Redd Foxx to General Motors, Mariah Carey to 100 rabbits with herpes. An offbeat satire for an off-kilter age, The Sleep of Reason offers an incisive guide to moral behavior in an immoral world.

72 pages | 6-1/8 x 8-1/2 | © 2003

Phoenix Poets



"In a wry, arch, self-consciously Eliotic voice, Gewanter attempts in this second collection to chart a vexed moral universe. Socially conscious lyrics that pick up from Robert Lowell juxtapose the classical with the contemporary. Yet the overall impression that the book leaves is of a seriousness and rigor in trying to find a means to moral clarity."

Publishers Weekly

"The Sleep of Reason is a strong collection from a writer who seems to possess that most curious and necessary of literary attributes--a moral vision."

New York Times Book Review

"The poems . . . are unapologetically eclectic and intellectual, yet never inaccessible. Gewanter tempers his scholarship with humor and irony, a combination which produces some truly beautiful results."

Kathleen Rooney | Harvard Review

"Gewanter’s stunned clarity, his sense of poetry’s ethical possibilities, goes beyond the fragile comic pleasure of his poems."

Brian Phillips | Poetry

Table of Contents

A is for Allegory
See Saw
After the Wall
Jacopone: The Scissors
Cobbler’s Children
Xenia: Stanger/Guest
Chai: 1924-2000
Tacitus: City of Unseens
Catullus VIII
One-Page Novel
Divorce and Mr. Circe
Marriage: Six Primers
Or What You Will
Convolvulus, a Lullaby
Redd-Pound Slamma
A Lie-Awake Dirge
Revenger Sonnet
Jacopone: House
Traffic of CReations
The Loop: JFK Jr
Jacopone: On the Cobbles
Hocus Pocus



Academy of American Poets: James Laughlin Award

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