The Hotel Oneira: Poems (Hardcover)
A thrilling new collection from one of the most original poets of his generation
"His work is a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy with a jazzy backbeat." That praise appeared in the pages of The New York Times in 2005, but it applies no less to August Kleinzahler's newest collection.
Kleinzahler's poetry is, as ever, concerned with permeability: Voices, places, the real and the dreamed, the present and the past, all mingle together in verses that always ring true. Whether the poem is three lines long or spans several pages; whether the voice embodied is that of "an adult male of late middle age, // about to weep among the avocados and citrus fruits / in a vast, overlit room next to a bosomy Cuban grandma" as in "Whitney Houston," or that of the title character in "Hootie Bill Do Polonius," who is bidding "adios compadre // To a most galuptious scene Kid"—Kleinzahler finds the throbbing human heart at the core of experience.
This is a poet searching for—and finding—a cadence to suit life as it's lived today. Kleinzahler's verses are, as noted in the judges' citation for the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize (which he won for his collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep), "ferociously on the move, between locations, between forms, between registers." The Hotel Oneira finds Kleinzahler at his shape-shifting, acrobatic best, unearthing the "moments of grace" buried under the detritus of our hectic, modern lives.
About the Author
August Kleinzahler published his first book of poetry, A Calendar of Airs, in 1978. In 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, which won the 2004 Griffin International Poetry Prize. His collection of poetry, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of the prose books Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (FSG, 2004) and Music: I-LXXIV (Pressed Wafer, 2009), and the winner of the 2008 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award. A native of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Kleinzahler currently lives in San Francisco.
“Kleinzahler's music is not like anyone else's. His ear seems at times to have been shipped in from one of the moons of Saturn, and he hears possibilities in our daily language to which the rest of us remain incorrigibly deaf.” —Troy Jollimore, The Washington Post
“Kleinzahler's work, dreamlike yet savvy, is among the most delightful flowerings of American poetry in our times.” —David Wheately, The Guardian (London)
“[August Kleinzahler] might be the best poet in America, I don't know--I can't trust my judgment after I finish one of his too infrequent collections, high on its cartoon-jazz fumes. It's been five years since the astonishment of Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2008 (and should have won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer), and, well, he's back . . . If you're unfamiliar with his work . . . start somewhere, for God's sake--you're missing out on one hell of a racket.” —Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune
“Kleinzahler's poetry, like his name, is verbally lush, veritably cornucopian and always promising more . . . If there's a unifying characteristic to this ‘teeming,' verbally high-octane poetry, it's its ability to lean toward sentimentality without indulging in it. Memory, in August Kleinzahler's poetry, becomes a resource for reveling in words and proper nouns that might otherwise seem lost - for revivifying the dead both within and without the poet. And the poetry itself delivers bouquet after bouquet of lovely phrases, ‘profusion(s) of violets, turtles, snakes and cranes,' so that even if readers can't quite remember the lost world Kleinzahler is recovering, they can enjoy his skill, which is considerable.” —Aaron Belz, San Francisco Chronicle
“Where the acoustics of his poems are concerned, Kleinzahler is the model of scrupulousness . . . Here in abundance is Frost's "sound of sense," musically understood, as a poetic lingua franca . . . Things often look bleak in Kleinzahler's poems; but no inhibition need attach to pointing out how well these witty and enjoyable poems manage to turn out.” —Aingeal Clare, Times Literary Supplement (UK)
“Kleinzahler's first since his new-and-selected Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (2008) finds the peripatetic, polymathic, and sometimes dyspeptic poet in terrific form . . . What stays, and what ought to impress any reader, are the range and the command that Kleinzahler has over so many flavors and kinds of American English.” —Publishers Weekly
“Kleinzahler's poems amuse, challenge, and occasionally tease . . . his dark lyrics and mininarratives open doors to surreal, vividly rendered destinations that seem as real as any found in a travel agent's brochure.” —Fred Muratori, Library Journal