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Logography: A Poetry Omnibus brings together three collections of extraordinarily vigorous and electric poetry from the quicksilver mind of Anis Shivani: Confessions II, Lyric/Resistance, and The Art of Love.

Praise for Anis Shivani’s Poetry

“Formally inventive, confrontational, and erudite, Anis Shivani’s work calls upon us to rethink our view of a war-torn world in which the ages-encompassing conversation of Literature and Culture is both bulwark and catalyst. Shivani writes about our hypocrisies and braveries with ventriloquistic precision, his gestures sweeping in history, tradition, and geography.”

—Kevin Prufer

“Anis Shivani writes wonderfully intelligent, allusive, interesting poems in an astonishing variety of forms. He ranges freely through history and cultures, always alert to the salient moment, the sharp insight, the provocative point of departure. His poetry is deeply involved in the writing that has gone before it. The poet moves in and out of other texts; his own voice, however, remains firm, distinct, wise, ironic, meditative. His are poems to read and savor.”

—Jay Parini

“Anis Shivani evidently inhabits a world in which every moment of time in the past, present, and a humorously but lethally prophesied future, occurs simultaneously and is animated by a wit sometimes subtle, sometimes savagely indignant. Its two faces join forces and somehow manage to speak in unison of what they actually see and think. I sense everywhere an undercurrent of compassion and identification, a poignant humanity and sense of responsibility underneath his torrential voice.”

—Franz Wright

“Startlingly fecund, culturally shrewd, grounded in bright particulars and sly juxtapositions, Anis Shivani shows us with diamond brilliance what happens when language takes leave of its day job to exult in its real power. No longer the bean counter of ordinary doings, it becomes its own freedom, conscious of itself as beacon of what we could achieve, were we to realize the wisdom of Emerson’s remark that the ultimate American trope is surprise.”

—David Rigsbee

“When I first plunged into Anis Shivani’s work, I had the impression two of my most admired dead poet friends were one-upping each other in the afterlife—Tom Disch with his straight-faced drop-dead virtuoso satire of literary and political pretension and Agha Shahid Ali with his eloquent, global, polyglot formal legerdemain—both of them knowing more about history and about literature than ninety-nine percent of their readers. But Shivani’s poems are no phantoms, they are vibrant, new, knowledgeable, daring, and welcome.”

—Marilyn Hacker

“Anis Shivani charts precisely how literature begets politics and empire becomes pariah via colony. Surrounded by canonical figures old and new, Shivani writes poetry where best and worst are marked by their complicity. He describes the world where we all—uneasily, ultimately—live. His is a poetry of fierce intelligence.”

—Claudia Keelan

“Shivani’s poetry is remarkable for its continuing preoccupation with literature, culture, and language, and a discourse that incorporates the written word, the oral tradition, and the imagery of art and film. Shivani’s cerebral poems often border on the obscure, but constantly challenge the reader to unravel deeply embedded references, suggestions, and innuendoes. The innovative use of words and sounds that draw on myriad languages and cultures adds to the rich texture of each poem.”

—Muneeza Shamsie

“If you are a vocal passenger traveling through Anis Shivani’s tightly knitted, poetic, and semiotic avalanche of quirky images, what is Shivani asking you to say, to speak? When we read Shivani’s poems, we are asking ourselves if we are capable of being the Library of Congress. We face an enormous task. We can’t bundle Shivani’s words together like sticks and branches. Shivani has invented an entire literary civilization using the imaginary autobiographical portraits of luminary figures, some dead and some alive. Shivani is adding another layer, a thick layer, of the collective consciousness on our already overabundant collective consciousness, monitored by Apple and Google and Pharmacology, as if the brain of existence needs to wear a Shivani-woven hat on its head. Perhaps in our pugilistic loneliness, when we finally find ourselves entering one of Shivani’s psyche-based corridors using an Edwardian electrical cord, we find that it is an endless cul-de-sac that exists at the abyss of Shivani’s logic.”

—Vi Khi Nao

“In Anis Shivani’s poetry, the artist’s eternal wrestling match with the conundrums of identity and death, art and mammon, influence and originality are complicated by a wide-ranging sociopolitical critique of privilege and the cultural stagnation it has always engendered. Assembling an exhilarating bricolage of postmodern parataxis, Shivani incorporates the poetic projects of the Tang Dynasty, Whitman’s humanism, Eliot’s modernism, Plath’s confessionalism, and Ashbery’s experimentalism into a dazzling poetics all his own in his exuberantly ambitious solution to complex/alterities.”

—Susan Lewis

“With echoes of Blake, Yeats, Lorca, and Vallejo, Anis Shivani’s verse dances between the extremes of the past and the present, the personal and the global, suffering and eroticism, and theory and myth. Rich details underscore the particularities of everyday life within the universalities of experience to insist upon a uniquely humanistic, political, and intellectual vision. Internal rhyme and diversity of form keep the lyric fresh while the unblinking eye of the narrative elicits an empathy that nonetheless confronts the reader with a visceral understanding of humanity under occupation. Shivani’s lens sweeps with cinematic confidence from the grand to the minute and his voice encompasses the roaring horrors of war and the quieter moments of reflection and grace.”

—Wendy Chin-Tanner

“Anis Shivani’s poems cast civilization as a kaleidoscopic, cosmopolitical carnival, which feels unreal until we consider the actual implications of our lives: information surging into us at every moment. His is poetry of velocity relayed via muscular syntax and formal dexterity. Above all, his are poems to be read aloud—Shivani’s lush soundplay captures the madness of an atonal saxophonist. The very clatter of the contemporary world threatens to destroy and charm us with its beauty. From wars to weddings to volcanoes, we are certainly not safe in Shivani’s universe, but we are also defiantly in love.”

—Hadara Bar-Nadav

“Anis Shivani’s command of poetic form and meter enable him to write poems that build on the work of those whom he references without being smothered by the weight of the undertaking. His poetry is particularly powerful when figures of art and literature are used as a lens of interpretation for contemporary events. The additional sentiment buried in his poems is the motion toward Western orientalist philosophies of the East and the ease with which bodies of the ’other’ are made to suffer. Shivani frequently extends the concept of immigration beyond bodies and into the realm of thought, figures, and places representative of different modes of experience. With each new reference, Shivani demonstrates the ways in which globalization can intrude upon the life of the mind and the health of the spirit. His poems often seem to serve as a way of drawing together points of convergence and divergence in order to articulate the quiet and the chaos endemic to life in a globalized world.”

—Michael Ravenscroft

“Writers ask us to meet them at a particular set of coordinates; we can show up or not. Anis Shivani has chosen the terrain of human cultural artifacts—paintings, poems, novels, films, and narrations of history—on which to restage the colonial era’s shocks, gashes, and reverberations. His poems remind me of Teju Cole’s much retweeted and reposted Twitter series ‘Seven Short Stories About Drones’: famous opening sentences of novels (largely, but not only, from the Western canon) ruptured irreparably by drone attack. Where Cole maintains his efforts just long enough to bring us past the point where the point is made and to the moment where it sickens us, Shivani’s poems dig in. There’s a degree of almost puritanical relish for the tackiness and shoddiness of the hangover you get from mixing imperialism with liberalism.”

—Kate Schapira

Logography is a truly successful poetry collection because it takes all the strengths of Shivani’s earlier work: compression, language, and historical/political/literary references and focuses them through a sharpened lyrical voice that is both heightened and distinct. Anis Shivani is a brilliant modern poet who is not afraid to take risks; his work is both expansive and radical in the sense that everything is fair game: language-play, metaphor, allusion, politics, and emotion. Logography represents a high-point in terms of his poetic abilities; these poems, in all of their visionary and conceptual beauty, provide a new sense of openness and possibility that Shivani can build on and develop as he continues to grow and excel as a poet. When reading these poems, it very much feels like ‘the leviathan is ear-splittingly close’ and ‘the monks / have plenty to eat.’”

Andrea Syzdek