Ben Lerner on Chris Nealon's Heteronomy

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Why Write?


Heteronomy by Chris Nealon, new from Edge Books


Chris Nealon

ISBN 1-890311-38-4

80 pgs, Design by Quemadura


$14.00 direct from Aerial/Edge (regularly $20)

Chris Nealon’s Heteronomy is built out of five long poems, including The Dial. Together they form an overlapping set of mediations on love and friendship and political life. Taking inspiration from a long poetic tradition of self-referential frame devices, Nealon wrote the poems so that each refers to the others, and each is built out of poems within poems – like late-capitalist medieval dream visions in which the poet describes writing a poem, or wishes he were writing, or finds himself startled awake. What’s the poem, and what’s the frame? It’s hard to say – and perhaps because of that, these poems find in the figure of the poet an image of embarrassing self-inflation and comic limitation. They are dedicated to everyone who’s felt that way.

Chris Nealon is the author of two books of literary criticism, Foundlings: Lesbian and Gay Historical Emotion before Stonewall (Duke UP, 2001), and The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in The American Century (Harvard UP, 2011), as well as two earlier books of poems: The Joyous Age (Black Square Editions, 2004), and Plummet (Edge Books, 2009). He teaches in the English Department at Johns Hopkins University, and lives in Washington, DC.