New book: In Times of Danger, by Paul Oppenheimer ’61 (Spuyten Duyvil)
The author: A novelist, journalist, translator, and short story writer, Oppenheimer teaches at The City College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has written about the origins of the sonnet in 13th-century Italy in his book, The Birth of the Modern Mind: Self, Consciousness and the Invention of the Sonnet. In this, his fourth poetry collection, he sticks to the sonnet form in all 90 some poems.
The book: In this love story set against the background of New York City and the rural Hudson Valley before, during, and after the attacks of Sept. 11, the poet responds to those attacks and expresses his feelings about the Iraq War. “Focusing on New York City circa 9/11, Oppenheimer’s poetry is in tune with the city’s initial aloof insularity, and its post-attack fiery search for retribution, its brittle conscientiousness, and fragile heart,” wrote a critic for The Adirondack Review, an online literary magazine. “He shows us the view of the outsider, the person in one of the towers, the volunteers, the street-level witness, and the removed cynic. … He contrasts this supremely urban terror with the inherent terrors and serenities of the natural world.”
“I now live in one vast electric ear
three thousand miles from sea to shining sea
across, an apparatus of attention
that super-agencies can commandeer
to eavesdrop on my secrets, from drinking tea
to knowing you, my moments of intention”
Review: “The poems in In Times of Danger are complex and intricately layered but extremely rewarding. The language is precise, crisp, and fresh. Oppenheimer takes one of the oldest forms in the history of English-language poetry and makes it seem an invention of modernity,” wrote Marc Garland of The Adirondack Review.