Revelator is the opening poem in a major sequence entitled Universe. It’s the jumping off point for a work that, were Ron Silliman to live long enough, would take him three centuries to complete. We are hopeful. Universe is a poem of globalization and post-global poetics (an important reason for publishing this key section outside of the USA). At its core, it addresses the problem that there are only two global systems: the biosphere and capital, while every response to these global systems is invariably local. The first appearance of Revelator in a journal won Poetry’s Levinson prize, previously given to poets such as Robert Creeley, Theodore Roethke, Geoffrey Hill, John Ashbery, Robert Duncan, Basil Bunting, William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Hart Crane, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens.
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Praise for Silliman:
“Called a ‘thaumaturge’ (‘wonder-worker’) by the poet Robert Duncan, Silliman has created a new kind of writing from the simplest materials…. The poet confides, describes, extols, remarks, puns, paints domestic scenes, slyly alludes, records minutiae, leaps to large statements, arouses, repeats. Through it all, a friendly, northern California sort of personality emerges.” — David Melnick, San Francisco Chronicle
“What I find most striking about Silliman’s sentences is that they’re fun; they give pleasure in many different ways, through their wit, their allusiveness, their visuality, their phonetic texture, their descriptive precision, or their sheer unlikeliness.” — Roger Gilbert, Contemporary Literature
“Of all the language poets, Silliman’s express-line writing was and is the one that stuck to my ribs. It was so thingy, so specific, so formally radical, so hard- headed, yet witty, and now and then, in spite of itself, lyric. I liked his post-industrial music. I loved ketjak and tjanting and paradise… And the reach – the compulsion to pull everything in.” — C.D. Wright, Jacket
“We know Silliman cannot write the whole universe — but his intense desire to take a snapshot of our mortal lives, to ‘pull everything in,’ provides a haunting, dense, breathless battle against Time ‘coming to take its breath away.'” – Jessica Smith, Jacket 2
“[It] signals a turn in Silliman’s poetics away from parataxis and toward blurriness, a move toward new and more capacious ways of imagining how poetic form can hold worlds together.” – Sam Rowe, Full Stop
“The poem is electrifying in its associative bursts, dead-ends, and potentialities made possible by the simultaneous propulsions and attritions of the syntactic”. – Prathna Lor, Lemon Hound
“Revelator is a living breathing poetry machine, fuelled by the poet’s memory, and a passionate commitment to formal inventiveness; at once natural, whimsical, brilliant, and humane.” – David Swartz, Vallum
Ron Silliman has written and edited over 30 books, and has had his poetry and criticism translated into 12 languages. He has worked as a political activist, editor, and market analyst. Among his honors, Silliman was a 2012 Kelly Writers House Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, and the 2010 recipient of the Levinson Prize, from the Poetry Foundation. His sculpture poetry (Bury Neon) is permanently on display in the transit centre of Bury, Lancashire, and he has a plaque in the walk dedicated to poetry in his home town of Berkeley, although he now lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania.