In The Disintegration Loops Stephen Cramer attempts to uncover the music within the world’s dissolution and fragmentation, from Italian masters painting over the work of previous artists, to the innocence of childhood giving way to scars, to the description of badly stored tapes being looped and played over and over again until they begin to flake. In the last of the three, silence eats the music from the inside so that by the final loop, the listener hears not the soaring themes of the beginning, but an homage to loss and stillness. The book insists that music, and maybe even life itself, is made more dazzling and precious because it “falters/ & staggers/ forward. The broken/ melody limps & surges on.”
About the Author
Stephen Cramer’s first book of poems, Shiva’s Drum, was selected for the National Poetry Series and published by University of Illinois Press. Bone Music, his sixth, won the Louise Bogan Award and was published by Trio House Press. He is the editor of Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop. His work has appeared in journals such as The American Poetry Review, African American Review, The Yale Review, and Harvard Review. An Assistant Poetry Editor at Green Mountains Review, he teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont and lives with his wife and daughter in Burlington.
Shakespeare took comfort in the immortality of art, but Stephen Cramer knows that is a fiction. Composer William Basinski’s decaying audio tapes allow silence to “eat its way / through the music / like moths into old silk.” Under the splendid paint of Michelangela’s Sistine Chapel ceiling lies the artwork of an earlier forgotten artist. In these poems, disintegration and loss are what make art and memory precious to us. Given perfect teeth could Coltrane have produced his spiral of shattered notes”? It is a book of unconventional elegies: honest, dark, and very beautiful.
-Julie Kane, author of Mothers of Ireland , and former Poet Laureate of Louisiana
The poems of Stephen Cramer’s dexterous, melodic new book The Disintegration Loops are made from music that comes from the unexpected. Coltrane’s teeth, misplaced love, art painted on ceilings, a monk’s saffron robe: they all transform into harmonies we’ve never heard. If you didn’t know Cramer’s work, you better sit up and listen: each of these poems is a music made out of words, a whole symphony happening from one page to the next.
-Adrian Matejka, author of Maps to the Stars, and former Poet Laureate of Indiana
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