…contains the following starred review of Robinson Alone which will be officially published next week:
Oct 2012. 132 p. Gold Wake, paperback, $12.95. (9780983700142). 811. Weldon Kees is one of the more mysterious figures in American arts. Born in Nebraska in 1914, he followed his polymorphous muse from coast to coast as a musician, librarian, writer, screenwriter, critic, and painter. He is remembered most for his poetry, and for his disappearance. Did he leap to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge in July 1955 or seek a new life in Mexico? In an extraordinary act of identification, poet and essayist Rooney (For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs, 2010) improvises on Kees’ most haunting poems, a quartet featuring an alter ego named Robinson. Her loosely biographical, knowledgeably imaginative, and gorgeously atmospheric story in verse portrays Robinson as a dapper, talented, and bedeviled man who conceals his sorrows behind insouciance. Rooney weaves lines from Kees’ writings into her bluesy, funny, and scorching lyrics as she follows Robinson from elation to desolation as his wife succumbs to alcoholism and his dreams fade. Rooney’s syncopated wordplay, supple musicality, and cinematic descriptions subtly embody Kees’ artistic pursuits as well as Robinson’s sardonic grace under pressure. An intricate, psychologically luminous homage, tale of American loneliness, and enthralling testament to poetry’s resonance.
Thanks to Donna Seaman for the amazing write-up.