Friday, May 7, 2010

Dalkey's web page for the book

Friday, May 8, 2009

The prologue to Rhode Island Notebook translated into French by Guillaume Fayard 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Peter O'Leary at The Cultural Society reviews Rhode Island Notebook. Likely the most thorough and thoughtful review of the book I've read thus far:

"...the risk at stake in publishing a book like Rhode Island Notebook, which, thanks to the Dalkey Archive, shines like a beacon in dismal times. Rhode Island Notebook doesn’t really belong in the lineage of the modernist long poems listed above – it’s constitutionally different as a travelogue – but it belongs in their company as an earnest addition to the act (and fact) of thinking about the meaning of America in a poem of length.

Rhode Island Notebook is better than most anything else I’ve read in the past year not written by a friend."

 [Photograph by Cary Conover, "Untitled," 
from the images section of The Cultural Society, used with permission]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Onedit's Tim Atkins reviews Rhode Island Notebook

"...I love this book..."

"his poem is the nature poem / ecopoem of the 21st Century"

"this is a wonderfully cumulative poem because you go with him and go there again and again"

"read this book because it is a big book of poetry that you can read every page of"

"The Dalkey Archive should be applauded & rewarded for their great publishing program"

"it resists categorisation"

"it is completely different from Gudding’s A Defense Of Poetry. & that is a very great book too"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interview at "P. F. S. Post: Maximum Post-Avant" about Rhode Island Notebook 
and the religion of literature

[thanks to Adam Fieled for his interest and for his great questions]

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"I have almost finished reading Gabe Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook. Gabe's book has opened up possibilities. Specifically place and history, including personal history. It is an expansive book with lots of boxes within boxes. A journey of consciousness and the practice of awareness. Of being awake..... Rhode Island Notebook is Hermes. fleet. builds. like I said expansive. Lots of details about mileage and things on the road notes and small essays on bums etc. Most everything goes in. Writing as practice in the best sense."

-Poet Marcus Slease (Northern Ireland, UK), in joint mention of RIN and Ken Edwards' lovely book Nostalgia for Unknown Cities" on Slease's blog

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Rhode Island Notebook already shows signs of the anti-literary, hyper-literary stance [Gudding] now wants to take toward poetry. In its seemingly artless, scatological, essayistic progress, the book picks up and discards language both lyrical and mundane, sometimes sadistically so, reckoning experience through that simplest and most flexible of narratives: there and back again, anabasis-katabasis. So when Gabe talks about wanting to somehow move beyond poetry, yet in poetry, I want to send him one of those old Publishers Clearing House envelopes that says YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Review by Levi Stahl at the Poetry Foundation website.

"[A]s the book progresses, and our hours on the road with Gudding add up, the mess of language begins to acquire a surprising emotional force. If McGrath’s project is to hold on to scenes and moments, Gudding’s is to clutch at microseconds. Individually, they may seem valueless, but strung end to end they are our days—and his account of them is wearing and maddening and scatological and, ultimately, admirable."

- Levi Stahl, "The Five-Minute Muse -- George Oppen, Gabriel Gudding, and Campbell McGrath: The off-the-cuff art of the poet's notebook."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Octopus Magazine reviews Rhode Island Notebook

"Notebook is the intersection (collision?) of Gudding’s selves: father, lover, (ex)husband; academic, poet; spiritual/political/historical American driver. Often he shifts between these roles rapidly. Likewise, there is much protean movement poetically – tonal, formic, altitudinal changes that occasionally blend but usually break the ankles. And whereas much (serious) poetry hopes to grab but a few of these subjects and voices at a time, Gudding mashes them all together – certainly how one experiences the aspects of a life …

… Gudding is able to reinterpret American existence for us – in all its contradictions and pitfalls."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

review of Rhode Island Notebook in Library Journal

Gudding, Gabriel. Rhode Island Notebook. Dalkey Archive. 2007. c.456p.
ISBN 978-1-56478-479-7. pap. $12.50. POETRY

Once the source of national identity and possibility that inspired
Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac, the American road has become
domesticated, even routine. But Gudding's latest book (after his
inventive and irreverent 2002 debut, A Defense of Poetry) repurposes
the linear progression of highway signs, roadkill, and fast-food
joints into a medium for multivalent self-discovery. "When driving
long distances a person enters a kind of snakedance psychosis," he
writes, and this journal-in-verse, composed during 26 round trips he
took between Illinois and Rhode Island—visiting his beloved young
daughter and estranged spouse—brims with spontaneous meditations
that range from scatological to eschatological, personal to political,
comedic (e.g., "Billboards/ are the palm trees of Indiana") to
heartbreaking (e.g., "Clio was so sad/ her hair & face small/ as if
she'd swallowed herself"). Omnidirectional in its attentions, the book
nevertheless attains fugal coherence through repeated themes and
rhetorical structures. It's a long, often wild, and sometimes
uncomfortable ride, but when the head and heart sharing the driving
are as imaginative as Gudding's, the road brings many surprises.

—Fred Muratori

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"...this book is one of the best works of poetry I have seen for many years."

-- Giles Goodland in Stride Magazine (UK)

[see more about Giles Goodland here.] {for some reason when one clicks directly on the link for Goodland's recent book, Capital, one is taken to a wikipedia article on Hypertext Transfer Protocol, so try this and scroll down}

from Salt website: "Giles Goodland was born in Taunton, was educated at the universities of Wales and California, took a D. Phil at Oxford, has published a handful of books of poetry before this, the last of which was A Spy in the House of Years (Leviathan, 2001). He now works in Oxford as a lexicographer and lives in West London."
"Gudding has taken eternal archetypes and overlayed them with fine language and innovative transitions to bring us a great book and one that needs to be read for the important work that it is."

-- Ray Bianchi, "Why Rhode Island Notebook by Gabriel Gudding Matters," as found on The Irascible Poet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everything good is on the highway.

-- Emerson, "Experience"

RIN's Prologue

RIN's Appendix

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


[publication date Nov 23, 2007]

[436 pages]

• A book?

• A long poem? -- written in a car on the highways between Normal IL and Providence RI

• An anti-pastoral response to Ashbery's quietistic _Vermont Notebook_?

• A Sisyphean meditation on American unsettledness, its collective agitation, on roads, the ugliness and emptiness of the American roadscape?. See esp. pp 87-91

• Post-nature writing?

• The only book that I know of written entirely inside a moving car

• An account of a family falling apart

• A chronicle of affect. A narrator's movement from negative mindstates toward an awareness of those states and the resolution to overcome them

• An at times lyrical (and sometimes turgid) account of the road, the weather, etc

• A simultaneous history: the personal (the driver's separation from his daughter) and the national (a chronicle of the rise of jingoism and the invasion of Iraq)

• A gift for the driver’s daughter when she is much much older

• A personal history, a chronicle intended at one level entirely for the driver’s daughter, Clio. She is 5 at book’s opening

• An exorcism. An exorcism of violence, historical and personal

• A meditation on America and American violence/aggression. Much about Iraq, passim, &
- Genocide against Lakota, driver raised in Lakota country: pp 264-285
[Entire “Appendix” concerns genocide of the Lakota, the importance of standing up to brutal, violent, remorseless people, looking into fear and sorrow]
- Teddy Roosevelt: 135 - 144
- Violent parody of Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”: 114-118

• A novelized notebook literally written in a car using sketchpad and pen between Sept 2002 and Dec 2004

• An attempt at a meditation in the spirit of the great renegade sociologist C. Wright Mills who suggested seeing connections between “personal troubles and public issues”

• A story of one's man's friendship with the Shenango River: 113,128, 141, 155, 208, 218, 227, 247, 260, 273, 288, 308, 310, 325, 338, 341, 352, 353, 361, 386, 419, 434

Narrative Arc: (the driver's favorite sections in bold):

Basic narrative arc and concern of book are laid out in prologue.

Book opens w/ driver in Normal, Illinois and partner and daughter and step-daughter in Providence, Rhode Island.

- Discussion of katabasis (8-14); setting of katabatic theme of notebook: narrative arc of notebook as in one sense a journey into and out of a hell, the rising out of a self-made, or a self-permitted, hell as the notebook progresses
- Meeting Herodotus in hell (8-13)
- Essay on Whitman’s comprehensive empathy and its relation to death and the comic (8-11)
- 22-36: lengthy beating and torture of American bald eagle that eventually morphs into J Robert Oppenheimer

63-64 Essay on literary narcissism (in Aufgabe)

71- A marriage occurs in attempt to save a relationship. 71-72 theory about cockroaches proffered

87-91 Catalog of road signs from Ohio to Illinois.

96-108: Essay on dung

75-77: Violent parody of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

136-146, 161, 217: Violent attack on Nancy Reagan

110-118, 167-171, 172-180: Violent attack on Bush family

180: A divorce is decided on 4 months later (3.16.03), the very day the US invades Iraq.

194-212: Driver meets M...., a kind person; driver not used to such a kind, calm person

213–230: Driver travels to Providence to give poetry reading, negative mindstates generated by exposure to long-standing interpersonal trauma and then deflected toward southerners, also extension of a violent verbal world constructed around Nancy Reagan, in which I think she turns into an eagle again; also talk of killing a deer with a thumbtack (p. 225); further various unfocused negativities, etc

231– 253: Optative mood. Drive to collect Clio and bring her to IL for summer. 238-241: Hymn of gratitude for Clio (not in galley version)

253–267: Driver returns to Illinois with Clio. Very happy. Simple writing. Driver's favorite section.

268-276: A meditation abt personal failure, reactivity, Late Capitalism and its entraining of emotional reactivity

281–293: Immersion in a divorce hearing at Family Court in Providence. 187-88, missing home and Minnesota, remembering divorce of parents (version in New American Writing)

293–302: Description of the divorce hearing witnessed. Drive back after hearing.

303- : Travel to spend Xmas holiday with Clio in motel. Have flu. Thérèse of Liseaux (305), Nietzsche (306-307), Matthew Arnold’s misprision of reality (303-304): Driver resolves to start meditating, to get positive (304-307). Huge snowstorm (310-314).

320 - : Clio very ill. Driver travels to see her. War in Iraq, Halliburton, Thomas Paine, the radio

335-339: landscapes in CT and southern NY, & PA

347-357 : Drive for Clio’s birthday. Slaughters in Fallujah: Ramadhi, Baghdad, Basra; on Philip Wylie’s “multi-momism” and its relation to state aggression (vis. a fight between bunnies, babies, and moms) ; physical abuse of a mom toward bunnies (353-355). Large, physically abusive mom attacks bunnies. Various sorrows. (357)

239 – 264: Driver determines to embrace a strict wash of meditative practice as a means of coming out of habitual modes of perception and action. On the logically-grounded and scientific efficacy of certain aspects of Buddhistic psychology – and the resolution to begin developing lovingkindness – and how to do that

- On Isaac Bashevis Singer, flaw, hamartia and the comic: (367-370) (as found, eventually, in Jacket Magazine, #33, “The Dangerfield Conundrum: A Roundtable on Humor in Poetry”)
- On a method of mental cultivation known as Metta Bhavana (the cultivation of lovingkindness) (371-376, 387-389)
- Last trip: advice for Clio (somewhat Polonius-like, pp 396-401);
End of main part: bottom 263-264
406-436: Appendix. Meditation on facing pain, Sitting Bull, genocidal foundations of current affective habits inherent to America, Lakota especially, the Buffalo, etc etc & the serious anger and denial subtending this landscape & its inhabitants

Poetry, wrote Diderot
at the beginnings of what would come to be “our time,”
must have something in it that is barbaric, vast, & wild.
It is some such wildness & vastness (multiplied several times over) that marks Gabriel Gudding’s unexpurgated & ever-more-inclusive Notebook. In writing or recording it, he creates an ultimate on-the-road poem, ranging between the personal & political, the familial (familiar) & the transcendent (transformal), while never stopping to apologize or to correct. Seen in that light & its attendant darkness, Rhode Island Notebook is a modern/postmodern epic as a poem-including-everything. An incredibly human/humane book at bottom, it is also Gudding’s road of excess, as Blake once had it, leading him (& us) to the palace of wisdom.

-- Jerome Rothenberg

This is a remarkably vulnerable book, a dapple-drawn vortex sutra, a contemporary odyssey, an anti-Baudrillardic-bardic remapping of America. It is a meditation on loss and fecundity, an amazing read, a necessary read, by an amazing poet. It documents travel-stubble and it brings America home like nothing else I've read. Literally written on the road, everything skitters and opens to an elsewhere. What might have been an experiment in conceptual writing has emerged into an exhilaration that makes me glad I'm still alive, in the midst of critique and highways. This is the first 21st-century classic.

- Alan Sondheim