EWU Title » Poetry
My Piece of the Puzzle
Winner of the 2009 Josephine Miles PEN Oakland National Book Award
In addition to several chapbooks, Doren Robbins has published five previous full-length collections of poetry, including Parking Lot Mood Swing: Autobiographical Monologues and Prose Poetry (Cedar Hills Books, 2004) and Driving Face Down (Eastern Washington University Press, 2001), which won the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry. His poems, prose, poems, and short fiction have appeared in a wide array of literary magazines and anthologies, among them the American Poetry Review, Kayak, Sulphur, and For Rexroth, and have earned him numerous prizes and awards, including a fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts. The cofounder and coeditor of the literary journal Third Rail, Robbins has also written critical essays on the work of Charles Bukowski, Deborah Eisenberg, Katerina Gogou, Philip Levine, Larry Levis, Michael McClure, Thomas McGrath, Kenneth Rexroth, Kazuko Shiraishi, Carol Tinker, and Philip Whalen.
Before embarking on a career in teaching, Robbins spent over two decades working as a cook and as a carpenter. His interests extend to art, and he has produced poster-poems to benefit the Salvadoran Medical Relief Fund, poetsagainstthewar.org, and PEN. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and currently teaches literature and creative writing at Foothill College, in Los Altos, California, where he is director of the Foothill College Writers' Conference.
These are remarkable, fiery poems. Poems that would urge any poet on, language that tears open reality. I think this Doren Robbins's finest book, and I've admired his work for a good while. The imagination, its energy and precision, is immense. There's a delicate observation of even the rawest materials, a tenderness for humanity in all its cruelty, stupidity, and often invisible dignity and grace, that feels to me like his peculiar, original contribution to—well, to the puzzle of what we have become: people, Americans, men and women today, above all those who are "absent," unregistered, undocumented in both senses.
Doren Robbins grows evermore himself, evermore an original and reliable critic, prophet, singer. His poems are ever richer, combining now unfaltering powerful and tender memory with wisdom. Real wisdom. And he's writing the best political poems I know.
Doren Robbins's poems are both poignantly personal and boldly political. They are passionate and lyrical, as you expect of the best in poetry. He is a keen observer of family life as well as the larger world outside, and a pleasure to read.
Robbins's work sounds very little like most of what is being published in America by poets his age. . . . He comes out of another tradition, one we forget in these indifferent times at our own peril, the tradition of Villon, of Corbière, Céline, Henry Miller, Tom McGrath, and most recently Gerald Stern, the great outsiders who bless our daily lives with their boundless love and rage.
Knowing the limited capacity of art to redeem anybody's suffering Robbins's poems provide no such obvious safety net. On the other hand, the voice in his poems, with its impeccable contralto of hope and revulsion, reminds us not to accept any limits other than our own resilient skepticism.
—Bill Mohr, Beyond Baroque magazine
To purchase My Piece of the Puzzle by Doren Robbins, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available online at UPNE, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.