p r e s s + r e v i e w s
a n n o u n c e m e n t s
i n t e r v i e w s
r e v i e w s o f w o r k s & d a y s
- from Catherine Staples' review in Rattle (February 2011)
- from Nick Asbury's review in Eyewear (January 2011)
is an engaging book that manages to be both experimental and “accessible,” if by that latter term one doesn’t mean dumbed-down. More than just a conglomeration of poems, it is a book with a subtle architecture, an ironic unity fashioned on the theme of fragmentation. This coherence and sophistication is an outstanding achievement in a first book.
- from Katelyn Kiley's review in The Rumpus (January 2011)
- From Jannie M. Dresser's review of Works & Days in The Bay Area Poets Seasonal Review (Fall 2010)
Oh, golly, what a bunch of fun Dean Rader's Works & Days is. To come upon such a book that makes me think, laugh, feel, and hear language anew! Where to begin? . . . As I was reading the book, I kept thinking of Lucretius' exhortion to his goddess, the he be able to deliver his facts in honeyed words: poetry doesn't get much better than when narration and music, reality and imagination, seriousness and giddiness all hook up. . . . He uses most of the poet's toolkit--the ancient art of repetition, call and response two-liners, Anglo-Saxon alliteration, dashes, italics, ellipses, and brackets--and when those do not prove to be enough, he invents some new tools for doing what he wants in order to make us see poems afresh . . . Rader is a model of a madman freedom that has been persuasively bent to the craftsman's bridle.
Download the full review here
- Sima Rabinowitz on Rader's award-winning poem "Hesiod in Oklahoma, 1934"
Dean Rader’s prize-winning poem is an excellent one. Rader’s poem is original, intellectually satisfying, sophisticated, and serious. I appreciate his attention to sound, his idiosyncratic lyricism, and his consistent and focused commitment to the poem’s vision. Rader never loses sight of the poem’s purpose and never releases his hold on a particular style of diction. Above all, the poem is incredibly satisfying rhythmically.
There is always the grass ahead of him on and on :
and behind him the grass the gouged skin they strip it from:
saltspiked and silty, endless and unending:
their labor the field’s body, the field’s body their stale host. …
furrowed and famished: find the poet swathed in dirt: inscrutable and silent:
- from Toby Bielawski's article, "Matzah, Bread, and Brownies," in The Albany Patch (a review of Dean's Albany Library reading)
Rader’s presentation style is energetic and light-hearted, and soon he was “moving away from the reverent part of the evening, to the ironic and darkly humorous” poems of Works & Days.
Inspired by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod’s work of the same name (though with its ampersand fully spelled out!) Rader’s poems in this volume similarly place emphasis on the value of labor (the “Works” section) and the passage of time (“Days”). Throughout the volume hop two familiar characters from children’s literature, Frog and Toad – though scarcely recognizable to readers of the children’s books, as Rader’s Frog and Toad deal with anger management, parallel universes, and writing sonnets.
Some of the poems – more “post-modern” work from the book’s experimental “&” section – were written in a style reminiscent of Mad Libs, with fill-in-the-blank spaces that often brought laughter from the audience. While one introduction of the original Works and Days describes Hesiod’s long didactic poem as lacking the “quintessential elation that is expected of good poetry,” clearly Rader’s remake doesn’t have that issue.
“He reminds me of [former U.S. Poet Laureate] Billy Collins,” said Albany resident Sylvia Paull, citing Rader’s mixing of pop culture with high culture and philosophy. She even speculated that perhaps we had just heard a future Poet Laureate.
- From Alexandra Yurkovsky's review of Works & Days in The San Francisco Chronicle
In [an] impressive debut, Works & Days, Dean Rader, a San Francisco writer and professor, serves up a feast of styles and subjects. The title is borrowed (inherited?) from Hesiod; thus the book includes "Hesiod in Oklahoma, 1934" and "Self-Portrait: Hesiod in Iraq." There's also a Hesiod epigraph, but considering the oblique Self Portraits, not to mention the amusing appropriation of Frog and Toad from Arnold Lobel's children's stories, Kathy Steele's epigraph seems most apt: "The self is not continuous" . . .[an] enjoyably clever book.
- Rader featured in The Richmond Review
- Featured Poet: Dean Rader in the British Blog Eyewear
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