Laws of Rest explores a new form, the prose sonnet—an intricate chamber of text enclosed within four quatrains of right-justified prose. In their box-like aesthetics, the poems conjure the weird, meticulous worlds of Joseph Cornell or Edmund Spenser. But anything can happen in these little rooms, in which the overheard conversation of taxi drivers, invented verses of Virgil, found text about Middle-Eastern geopolitics, and the music of extinct butterflies merge into unpredictable collage. Presiding over all is the gender-bending character Lucy, the subject of a failed love affair conducted in convenience stores and equestrian centers. The book ends with a series of poems for a friend who died young, bringing to elegaic focus the poems’ quest to understand the laws of rest (a phrase taken from the Jewish laws of Sabbath observance): the stillness of loss, the mute repose at the end of speaking.
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Praise for Laws of Rest:
“To make a David Goldstein poem: put a small library together. Include some rabbinic commentary, some literary theory, some Shakespeare and some transcriptions of cellphone conversations. Add a dash of longing and a dollop of irreverent wit. Stir vigorously. Never remove from heat.” — Adam Sol
“The elegant, inventive prose poems in David Goldstein’s Laws of Rest deploy mathematical rigor— each of the eight poems in each section has four print blocks with four very tight lines each—to contain a fantasy world in which everyday experience is transmuted into things rich and strange. Laws of Rest will keep you on your toes!” — Marjorie Perloff
“His words are packed in dense paragraphs, four to each piece, and they are baffling, funny, surreal and, quite often, disorientingly moving.” — Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail
“I couldn’t help but smile as each sonnet continued to surprise me with its charming language and imagery .… I encourage you to read it for yourself, spend an evening with these tightly wound poems, unravel the extraordinary world Goldstein has created for his speaker to inhabit.” — Contemporary Verse 2
On Writing, with David B. Goldstien here.
Interview with David B. Goldstien here.
David B. Goldstein’s poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies throughout North America, including The Paris Review, The Malahat Review, filling Station, CV2, Epoch, Harp & Altar, Jubilat, 6×6, and Octopus. His first chapbook, Been Raw Diction, was published by Dusie Press in 2006. As a literary critic, food writer, and translator, he has published on a wide range of subjects, including Shakespeare, contemporary poetry, translation, cannibalism, philosophies of food, and the politics of Martha Stewart. His first book of criticism, Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare’s England (2013) was published by Cambridge University Press. His translations from Italian poetry appear in The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry (2012), among other publications. Goldstein lives with his family in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor of English at York University.