The Leniad

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Nathaniel Rosenthalis' The Leniad is a mesmerizing, romantic, and surreal collection of poems. Rosenthalis writes with the care of the maker of the universe, turning everything over from the world's tallest mountains to the smallest pebble on the beach, always landing on the exact word. Rosenthalis is a poet who "hears the highway is blue in a blur" and listens.

Praise for The Leniad

Has the illusion of personal history and its attendant psychology ever been more succinct than in these poems? "Occasion: / last Friday. / Still bitter." Rosenthalis's long poem, "The Leniad," takes Virgil's Aeneid-that twelve-book epic that famously begins, "I sing of arms and the man"-and allows "the man" (here, named Leni instead of Aeneas) to speak for himself. When Leni talks about "arms," he's talking not about armor and spears but about "the arms of a man." These poems revel in the delight of thinking, of writing, of language, of love, and of being brought down and built back up (like Rome from the ashes of Troy) after a break up. They are nothing short of remarkable, the kind of fun that makes you think. - Mary Jo Bang, A Film in Which I Play Everyone

The Leniad takes inspiration from Virgil, from Dante, but The Leniad is like nothing else, its scope both epic ("...the last time I made this trip/ into the lower level of hell/the cliff face hadn't yet collapsed") and momentary ("the worried look of something about to turn in a wind"). This is an exhilarating journey, the frozen past and the grim here-and-now liberated, enlivened by discourse, intercourse, their astonishing offspring, poems both wildly inventive and brainy, erotically charged and heart-breaking. In the hands of the cerebral cortex, heartbreak sparkles. - Kathryn Davis, Aurelia, Aurélia 

"A little edge / was there, to put / his foot on." In even the smallest moves of erotic self-consciousness that motivate and score these poems and sequences, Nathaniel Rosenthalis recalls how gods in antiquity would engineer propitious conditions where men's desire wanted encouragement. If there is a ledge, a leverage, a favorable light, a volta, a vantage, this poet's line will find it and savor its glimmer, against loss and caution and the world's contingency. The hero of The Leniad has been equipped and delivered, without escape, to "Lust, that bluish type of situatedness." No one said he couldn't take notes. - Brian Blanchfield, Proxies

Praise for Nathaniel Rosenthalis

Philosophical, surreal in the tradition of Rimbaud's Illuminations, and slyly erotic, I Won't Begin Again is finally a triumph of emotion, what Rosenthalis defines as "putting yourself over another/to make a different sense." I feel changed by these poems - powerfully so, gratefully. - Carl Phillips, Then the War

A poetics of localized intense being-no, a poetics of intensive being, localized at one point to "an arm movement whose flipside is my tender wrist," at another to "a tiara floating." Nathaniel Rosenthalis writes less of what one does daily and more of what one is, the thus of what one is, distilled, malty, vialed up-then spilled. - Aditi Machado, Emporium

These poems highlight the way the world works its constant absurdity and they help us feel okay when we realize we work that same way. A dangerous desire, love, and intimacy ripple through the poems: 'how / hot it was when // he slammed what / a door had been, for him. / Into me.' I get that. Damn do I get that-to feel most alive when loved and loving. It stops the clock for a moment. - Sommer Browning, Good Actors

Nathaniel Rosenthalis's poems have a beguiling transparency and simplicity that serve as winsome screen for the complications provided by his syntax and his emotional orientation toward curlicue, paradox, and detour. - Wayne Koestenbaum, Figure It Out

Publisher: Broken Sleep Books
Pub date: August 31, 2023
116 pages
Format: Paperback