The Nerve by Glyn Maxwell
Poems

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Synopsis

Many of the poems in Glyn Maxwell's brilliant new collection explore American life and history. An Englishman who lived five years in Massachusetts, Maxwell watches fairs and floods and beggars pass by; he tries to understand gridiron and the ever-lengthening Halloween season. Some of these poems concern the harmful and the harmed: school shooters and terrorists on the one hand, victims and refugees on the other -- a girl accused of witchcraft; families made homeless, knowing "none in heaven or earth with any stake/in stopping it"; and the Californian "wild child" Genie. In a zone between are the harmlessly bewildered: a man who holds his own funeral, a TV weatherman wishing for hurricanes, women writing love letters to men on Death Row.
Maxwell's first new collection since The Breakage (1999), this succession of lyrics and narratives captures the strangeness and splendor of America, its thin layer of normality, its historical origins in flight, longing, and trust in providence. Beyond the cultural context of these poems is an incisive and compassionate portrait of the human animal in the twenty-first century. The Nerve is a haunting, powerful book that strikes deep beneath the surface of daily life, "like a spell or a code that unlocks a safe" (P. N. Review).
 

About Glyn Maxwell

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Long regarded as one of Britain's major poets, Glyn Maxwell is the author of numerous books, including One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems (2011).
 
Published September 24, 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 64 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Nerve

The Guardian

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The "nerve" of the title poem refers partly to the effrontery and/or courage needed to challenge the unconsidered patterns of one's perceptions and confront alternative possibilities, "to see the outline of somewhere / inhospitable, / with other rules, / unfair / and arbitrary" - a Frostian road ...

Nov 16 2002 | Read Full Review of The Nerve: Poems

Publishers Weekly

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Maxwell often comes up empty on trying to hit payoff notes ("if time could hear/ it would hear silence"), but readers who seek variety in formal choices will be pleased (as in past volumes) by Maxwell's well-managed pentameters, speedy couplets and fluid syllabics: the especially accomplished fin...

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