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Testimony by Charles Reznikoff. Boston. 2015. David Godine/black sparrow. Introduction by Eliot Weinberger. 6 × 9. 480 pages. December 2014. paperback. 9781567925319.

 

 

9781567925319FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A major work by an essential American poet, published in full for the first time. Available again for the first time since 1978—and complete in one volume for the first time ever— Charles Reznikoff ’s Testimony is a lost masterpiece, a legendary book that stands alongside Louis Zukofsky’s ‘A’ and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson as a milestone of modern American poetry. Taking as its raw material the voices of witnesses, victims, and perpetrators discovered by the author in criminal court transcripts, Reznikoff ’s book sets forth a stark panorama of late19th- and early 20th-century America—the underside of the Gilded Age, beset by racism and casual violence, poverty and disease—in a radically stripped-down language of almost unbearable intensity. This edition also includes Reznikoff ’s prose studies for the poem, unavailable to readers since the 1930s, and a new introduction by essayist Eliot Weinberger. ‘[Testimony] is perhaps Reznikoff’s most important achievement as a poet. A quietly astonishing work. .. at once a kaleidoscope vision of American life and the ultimate test of Reznikoff ’s poetic principles.. .’ – Paul Auster. ‘Reznikoff ’s astonishingly engaging and quietly powerful work has been steadily gaining a passionate following.. .. Testimony is a chronicle of industrial accidents, domestic violence, racism. It tells the story of America’s forgotten, those who suffer without redress, without name, without hope; yet the soul of these States is found in books like this; the acknowledgment of these peripheral stories turns a waste land into holy ground.’ – Charles Bernstein.

 

Reznikoff CharlesCharles Reznikoff was born in Brooklyn in 1894. He graduated from law school and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced, instead pursuing his writing. Between 1918 and 1961 he published twenty-three books of poetry and prose, gaining a wider readership in 1962, when New Directions published By the Waters of Manhattan: Selected Verse; a second selection, By the Well of Living and Seeing, was published by Black Sparrow in 1974, followed by the Complete Poems and Holocaust. Reznikoff died in 1975, at the age of eighty-one. Eliot Weinberger is an acclaimed essayist, translator, and editor. His essays are collected in Karmic Traces, An Elemental Thing, Oranges & Peanuts for Sale, Outside Stories, Works On Paper, and What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles (all available from New Directions). His writing appears frequently in The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books.

 

 

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