William Stobb:: Absentia & A Natural History

Full Introduction for William Stobb:: Absentia & A Natural History


If you look at the back cover of Nervous Systems—William Stobb’s debut collection and 2006 National Poetry Series winner—August Kleinzahler, the contest’s judge, describes the poetry as: “Jittery, synaptic, wide-ranging—wildly ranging…” Odd terms to describe the sublime of any contemporary poetry, but after reading this collection, there is no argument here. Those of us in Los Angeles may have been (often numerous times) to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It is a good place for anybody, but a wonderful place for a poet. Stobb’s work continually reminds me of the atmosphere of that place—where wonder and technology braid into a kind of helix, venturing towards the hazy and liminal space between possibility and impossibility.

Stobb’s poems can be extremely personal and touching, while also alert and bewildered by the snap-fuzz-buzz of our present day—with its automation, distractions, prosthetics, and hyper-reality afforded to us from our venture into technology and innovation. It is a graceful marriage between brain and heart, where far too often poets either rely heavily on one while neglecting the other. While William Stobb has undoubtedly grown from the aesthetic achievements from his first collection, you can certainly see in these two poems how he achieves a masterful equilibrium between intellectual vibrancy and emotional resonance. Cody Todd

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