Aram Saroyan

Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award in 2008

a man stands
on his
head one
minute—

then he
sit
down all
different

line

Ron Silliman on Aram Saroyan

The world was not ready when William Carlos Williams first published Kora in Hell in 1920 and the complete version of Spring & All three years later. Those books had a profound impact on American writing, even though they languished out of print for decades until they were brought back by City Lights in 1957 and Frontier Press in 1970. Aram Saroyan's minimal poems were even more of a scandal when they first appeared in the 1960s, foretelling not one, but several of the directions that American poetry would take in their wake, even as they too went out of print and stayed that way for over thirty years until Ugly Duckling Presse of Brooklyn seized the opportunity to make them available again. Like all miniaturists, Aram Saroyan uses the poem as a giant magnifying glass on the language of our lives and the processes we use to understand this. A work like "Blod"—that's the entire text—calls up not merely the words blood and bod, but all the sexuality that truncated latter term conveys, refusing to settle on one side or the other. Reading Complete Minimal Poems, we are struck by just how sturdy these poems have proven to be and just how brightly Saroyan's sense of humor shines through these pages. These poems are works of great optimism, and are as radical and strong in 2008 as the day they were written.

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