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Sleeping and Waking moves between states of consciousness and the phenomenal world, finding reciprocities among sleep, dreams, weather, and urban signs. O’Brien’s curiosity gets drawn to the edges of everyday life, rendering each local event with concision and exactitude. His poems offer what Ezra Pound calls “luminous details” in glimpsed gestures or overheard vernacular, full of the flaneur’s alert attention.
“Over the years O’Brien
has pared his poetry to essentials. He shapes this matter in many
forms, and the resulting music is declarative, terse, and elegant.
No ornament blurs the reader’s intense pleasure.” —William
“No other poet now writing is more alert from word to word or registers the world with Michael O’Brien’s oblique precision.” —August Kleinzahler