An excerpt from Joel Brouwer’s Off Message:
from "Observations in a Port City" "...Of bodies changed to other forms I sing. The palazzos of the oligarchs are now the palazzos of the oligarchs: Paribas, DB, Credit Suisse. Marco Polo dictated his travels in the prison of the Casa delle Compere di San Giorgio, Europe’s oldest bank, so both interest and China were invented there. It’s the port authority now, of course. A young woman helped a blind man navigate the piazza. It was either kindness or her job. Everything is changed; nothing ceases. The dead woman who ran for it. The dead woman who got too old. The dead woman weeping at the gangplank to the Tunis ferry with a dirty peony of Euros but no passport. I cannot recommend the tour of Columbus’s house. The price of admission is extortionate and also he never lived there. He’s crossing borders drawn in the air. He speaks every language. Everything is translated; nothing signifies. ..." "Observations in a Port City" from Off Message (c) 2016 by Joel Brouwer. Appears with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
Praise for Joel Brouwer
“Joel Brouwer’s itinerant and moral mind is always online, seeking to aggregate our surfeit store of information into some kind of meaningful ore, and to measure the distance between civilian and collective, between action’s rhetoric and action itself. Off Message’s disquieting prognosis for our era of surveillance should make us all more alert, more aware. It’s a thrilling and masterful book.”
— Cathy Park Hong
“Lacerating. Skewering. Anything you can do with a blade Joel Brouwer does in Off Message, in poems attuned to hypocrisies large and small, where ‘after intense / lobbying the transparency committee / approves a series of closed door hearings,’ where seabirds ‘cloaked in oil’ can be considered rich. ‘They must have marveled at distance’s power / to deceive and to wake deception’s twin, oblivion,’ he writes in ‘Lines on Distance,’ a poem that opens up the book with a bang. We need a book like this, to sound through all the fiddling in burning Rome; they should hand it out to every voter at the polls.”
— Dana Levin
“Off Message beautifully disproves the reductive cliché that politics makes bad poetry. Instead of proclamation, Joel Brouwer pursues complication, distressing a quiet free verse tradition. Nothing in these poems is easy. It’s a vexed world, and Brouwer is writing equally vexed, yet stunning poems about and for it.”
— Juliana Spahr
Upcoming Readings for Joel Brouwer
- Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7 PM - Four Way Books Fall Launch with Joel Brouwer, Karen Brennan, Henry Israeli, and Jen Levitt at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop on 141 Front St.
- Thursday, Oct. 6th, 6 PM - Four Way Books Fall Launch with Joel Brouwer, Henry Israeli, and Megan Staffel at the NYU Book Store on 726 Broadway, NYC
For more information about readings with Joel Brouwer and other Four Way Books authors, visit our website!