Jorie Graham on Joshua Clover's Madonna Anno Domini
Joshua Clover was the recipient of the 1996 Walt Whitman Award for his first book-length collection of poems, Madonna Anno Domini (Louisiana State University Press, 1997). Clover's manuscript was chosen by Jorie Graham, who wrote the following citation.
With this extraordinary first collection, Joshua Clover has written a poetic manifesto—as well as a prayer-book—for the millennial generation. Part metrical magician, part avant-gardist mathematician, the speaker of this book searches out avenues to belief through a vertigo-ridden array of technical, moral, aesthetic and imaginative means. In an age of balkanized poetics, we find, in this book, formal mastery capable of conversing deeply, and comfortably, with poetic tradition while, in the same breath, arguing with its ideology, reinventing its prescriptions, cracking open its premises into a field that's as wide as contemporary philosophy has allowed and more precipitously free than most contemporary poets would be able to negotiate intelligently. . . . A physicist of syllables, a mesmerizing singer of near-apocalyptic lullabies, a rememberer, a forgetter, a reinventer, a destroyer—a philosopher of disappearances, an architect of mutabilities—this poet actually sees the new world we are emerging into—from the fission of subatomic matter to its cataclysmic effects on the deserts of both our planet and our inner lives.