Results of the Walt Whitman Award in the year 1996.
In his first collection, Joshua Clover presents a harrowing poetic manifesto for the coming century. Clover fuses formal control, a solid grounding in poetic tradition (his allusions range from Shakespeare to Dickinson to John Cale), and sheer visionary exhilaration into a technical, moral, aesthetic, and imaginative lexicon that irradiates each page.
The eerie cyberglow of Clover’s lines illuminates a pageant of blurred and fragmented desolation: the Bomb, death camps, the Persian Gulf War, the beating of Rodney King, the whole numbing litany of modern horrors. Clover is a master of poetic shorthand, of the stark, unnerving image as immediate as yellow tape at a crime scene.
Madonna anno domini is a sacrament for the twilight of the atomic age, a hellish Interzone with “God in abeyance” where dazed speakers search through the vertigo of negation for love and belief. And here, in this utterly convincing vision of a world whose center has long since lost its hold, we see the life on whose brink we, at the end of the millennium, find ourselves poised.