Science & Steepleflower, New Directions Publishers


"In blossoms and fissures, tree trunks and waterways, Gander's poems interrogate the long script of how we can "thread" ourselves back into "the dull wood," "the groined chamber of salt," and realize how the "beloved's body"-that otherness with which we desperately long for contact-is also the body of land, plant, and water…. Gander…utilizes the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane."
-Tod Marshall,
The Boston Review


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Verse
Asheville Poetry Review
First Intensity
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Rain Taxi
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The Colorado Review

"Forrest Gander is a Southern poet of a relatively rare kind, a restlessly experimental writer. Science & Steepleflower is his fourth book and perhaps his best. Be ready for a ride. It is a strange melange of pungent, physical detail, scraps of geological and evolutionary science, oddly erotic images, and almost surreally exact bits of description: a poet moving through words, through time, in a way that seems at once precise and hallucinatory." -Robert Hass, Washington Post Book World

"The halting, tensile energy of these poems is vivid and shapes a dissonant music. Gander also utilizes the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane."—Tod Marshall, The Boston Review

"Gander's book blends passion with intelligence, an uncommon and welcome achievement nowadays. In short, this book is smart. In layered poems, Gander thinks not just of things but of thingness itself, the idea of thingness and the idea of thinking of such an idea. In significant ways Gander pursues the kind of dialogue Heidegger describes. . . . One answer to the way death 'constructs silence' is to believe, as does Gander, that the soul is 'multilingual in the same tongue.' His trinity of natural science, spirit, and language tempts us to believe it's so." -Kevin Stein,
The Colorado Review

"Gander is recognizably a Southern writer-he comes enviably armed with rich local knowledge and sensuous vocabulary-alert to the verbal wealth of flora, the subtleties of season and weather…. Gander's love for formal, even archaic language (raptus, arborescing) and the quiet complexity of his syntax can build striking abstract landscapes in which the material and spiritual worlds seem equally intelligent." -Tony Hoagland,
American Poetry Review

"In Science & Steepleflower multiple interpretations (a musician's of a score, say, or a historian's of an event) create a plenitude, a healthy genetics of meaning. But while recognizing this, Gander is also smart enough, and emotionally on-the-mark enough, to dig for the single crystalline sentence whose meaning must come as a surprise. . . ." -Tom Thompson,
The Reader's Catalog

"This is Gander's deepest book to date. Some of us have seen it coming-the alchemical combination of earlier narrative and lyrical strains and refrains. . . builds toward this book, where his poetic skills move in tandem with an intense poetic vision. We seem to hear these poems before we know them-their musicality takes initial celebration and in the next instant the meanings sink in, unlike the bullet that hits before you hear the sound. Visually, the lines' discrete placement on the page scores both sound and silence." -Ed Kleinschmidt,
American Letters and Commentary

"A collection of astonishing range from a poet who is impossible to categorize." -Tony Frazer, Shearsman

"For all its novel terms and disjunctive methods, Forrest Gander's Science & Steepleflower takes up a project older and more ambitious than Kleinzhaler's drifts or Ashbery's siftings: Gander really believes that his forms present central truths about the human lives, topics the poems explain and dignify. Gander's poems seek a language of mourning and praise appropriate to a scientific age-they try to retrieve for their readers "Not expression but recognition." Some yield secular epiphanies from single scenes or sets of data; others present and gloss the sharpest moments from unlucky life stories…. Gander's combination of science-words, quick-change images, long, harsh consonant heavy lines, and anti-iambic metrics attempt to record, and reproduce, his sometimes spectacular awe at the unpredictable visible cosmos…." -Stephen Burt,
The Yale Review

"Slowly pushing narrative poems to the linguistic breaking point, this ambitious, erudite fourth collection builds on the achievements of Gander's Deeds of Utmost Kindness . . . . Gander's is a lyrical and rigorous aesthetic that resolutely confronts the impassable screen of individual mind…." -
Publisher's Weekly

"Gander combines the abstract and concrete in ways that illuminate both, using texts and spacing as a visual corollary to his thought….We are thus encouraged to see the poem as fragments whose meaning is defined by Gander's perception of their entirety. By breaking down sequential thought and familiar patterns, he directs us to rethink language and sources of meaning. Gander seems to intend obscurity as a way of loosening the bonds of literal meaning to express something 'higher,' just beyond the grasp of clarity." -Bernard E. Morris,
The Harvard Review

"But instead of situating himself in the trampled and threadbare discourses of postmodern indeterminacy, the profile of Gander's poems is the lean, agitated silhouette of a direct, aristocratic descendent of High Modernism. Concision, excision, and a panoply of voices and dictions invoke th polemical poetics of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot…. Gander's [poems] plunge and swoop up and down the whole scale of earthy, earthly, cerebral, and celestial experience. The ride is for the most part thrilling…." -DeSales Harrison,
The Boston Book Review

"With Science & Steepleflower, Gander also proves that he is among the most gifted and accomplished poets of his generation. The collection is remarkable for its mixture of forms and sheer immediacy…. Often Gander uses the equivalent of a wide-angle lens to examine the connection between the subject and its context." -Mark Rudman, Amazon.com

"At the dog end of the century, when the lyric and the poet's persona seem whittled down impossibly thin, along comes Forrest Gander. His poems are heroic, working on a big canvas with the drive and intensity that I associate with Rothko or Pollock. He has an alert eye that sees more than most of us do, capturing in precise detail the splendor of the world, knowing that only with clarity comes beauty. Each element is momentarily at rest. The intensity, "the rawness of the looking," is not some false statis, but the vertigo of being in the world. Gander has about him the intensity of the hunter, the savage combination of patience and readiness: alert before the unexpected." -Peter Gurnis,
Rain Taxi

"Gander is an alchemist: he uses verbal techniques to turn subject matter into a moment of blinding and often wrenching transformation.... Science & Steepleflower is a confident collection that establishes Gander as part of the great American tradition of Emerson, Thoreau, and... Audubon." -Tom D'Evelyn,
The Providence Sunday Journal

"Science & Steepleflower is a major book. It is major in the feeling of readerly delight that humbles and awes on reading the book and then rereading it....Gander's poetic medium is the lyrical sentence, and in this respect he resembles Wallace Stevens more than any of his contemporaries. His vocabulary-as the book's title indicates-is detailed and surprising, and in this respect he can sound like an American Hugh MacDiarmid, full of expostulations with seemingly revelatory intentions...." -Peter O'Leary,
The Chicago Review

"Gander's genuine but strange earthiness makes poems which seem essentially, viscerally given. He has tapped the ethers for arcane meaning the doctrine of signatures behind things-poems of the periphery with a focus on the center, through the Third Eye. His poems bake in primal psychological mud and the natal urge…. It's a rigorous search for understanding consciousness at work here…." -
Oyster Boy Review

"In Forrest Gander's writing we see the kind of power that can derive from looking closely at what Gander calls 'the audacious/ originality of the ordinary.' His poems move with ease from the scientific to the specifics of nature, from the physical realities of bodies, rocks, and insects to the complexities of cognition. He is a poet as comfortable with neutrinos and azimuths as he is with sneezes and groins…. For readers looking for the best, most innovative writing being done by a younger American poet, Gander's Science & Steepleflower is a fine choice…. intellectually engaging, licentious in its love of the earth, and pleasurably surprising in its diction." -Kevin Boyle,
Magill Book Reviews

"Science and Steepleflower offers an exemplary glimpse into the possibilities of a certain range of poetry in the United States at the end of the 1990's, as well as a sustained engagement with some of the pivotal issues and choices poetry faces as it moves into the next century…. For Gander, the eventfulness of the world and the eventfulness of the word, of what is 'said' and what is 'happening,' are inseparable…. he consistently interrogates the event of articulation itself (whether in the various, sometimes overlapping languages of science or religion, or specialized or 'common' speech), as the only event poems can actually 'relate' at all in the strict sense, words being knowable first and foremost, by definition, in relation to one another, as a bracketing of the wor(l)d." -Jonathan Monroe,
Verse

"The space left between the words of Gander's sentences give form to the fluid and constantly changing world. The form of the poem itself makes clear the severance between all that will never be seen, and all that is taken for granted. He uses language like a lasso cast into the dark and mysterious crevices of nature, both human and organic. His careful lyric, combined with his formal adhesion to space and breath, tames the chaos of emotional, invisible, and sexual realms." -Kristin Prevallet,
First Intensity

"Gander . . . mixes particulars of sex and place with flora and tectonics…. And the scope or field of the poems is vast as the earth and broad as Linnaeus' project." -J. W. Bonner,
Asheville Poetry Review

The poems of Science & Steepleflower "are marked by their expansiveness, as if 'with a butter knife' a block of emotion has been delicately spread to display its depth, bringing all the previously invisible connections into full view…. We are rich enough for multiple, even inconsistent accounts, and Gander sets about proving it throughout this volume in which he consistently sees in two or more ways at once, and yet sees no contradictions, only reasons to be amazed." -Cole Swensen,
The Bloomsbury Review