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We Look Like This

Dan Burt

We Look Like This
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 847771 32 2
Categories: 21st Century, American, British
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2012
216 x 135 x 13 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Hardback, eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB)
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  • We look like this after things fall apart;
    The painting is the autopsy report
    From an inquest where war took the part
    Of coroner…

    from ‘Modern Painters’
    We Look Like This anatomizes how history, violence, power, lust and mortality work on us. Burt's formal, muscular language evokes a world of war, want, cruelty and hope, as well as childhood among ‘tough Jews’ in Philadelphia, dominated by his father Joe, son of Ukrainian immigrants, butcher, boxer and, late in life, coastal fisherman. Joe's last world, Barnegat inlet and the sea off the New Jersey coast, are counterpoint to and salvation from hard streets for father and son.

    Cover painting Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1978–9 (detail). Oil on board, 56.5 x 71.1 cm (22 1/4 x 28 in). Private collection. Copyright © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art. Photograph courtesy of Yvonne Burt.
    I
    Who He Was 1–5
    Death Mask
    Slowly Sounds the Bell

    II
    Certain Windows

    III
    Circumcision
    Indices
    Inquisition
    Rosebud
    Ishmael

    IV
    Accounting
    Death Rattle
    Blind Date
    Texaco Saturday Afternoon Opera
    Cabaletta
    All the Dark Years
    For John Crook
    Homage for a Waterman
    Facsimile Folio
    John Winthrop’s Ghost

    V
    Pastiche
    Poetry Reading
    After Lunch
    Little Black Dress
    Kept
    Pas de Deux
    Winter Mornings
    Yester-year
    Revenant
    Sie Kommt
    The Faithful
    End of the Affair

    VI
    Decorating the Nursery
    Wine Circle
    Dodge-Ball
    Blue Rinse Matrons
    Momentum
    Three Sonnets on the Coup de Grâce
    Uphill to the Right
    Manqué

    VII
    Compounds
    Modern Painters
    A Brewing Tale
    The Lesson
    Rigoletto
    Summa
    Motes
    Un Coup de Dés
    Identity
    Beside a Cove
    The Institute
    Trade


    Notes
    Dan Burt was born in South Philadelphia in 1942. He attended state schools and a local Catholic college before reading English at St John’s College, Cambridge. After graduating from Yale Law School he practised law in the United States, Saudi Arabia and Britain before moving to London in 1994 and becoming ... read more
    This is a major debut. Burt's tough, terse language explores the human truth reached when all protective skin is stripped away.
    Elaine Feinstein, The Times, 26th May 2012.
      'Dan Burt investigates the gaps between people, their cultures, their places of living. Between new and old worlds, between lives of deprivation and comfort, between inner and outer selves, there is something gritty and disturbing working away. From cynicism and anger to deeply felt and even traumatic elegy, these are the revelations and considerations of a life and the lives that contribute to and make one's own. In poems and prose that reach deep down into the reservoir of human loss, distress and need, comes hope. He is a writer of intensity and passion who is able to be wry when needs be. There are the costs, but there is also renewal.'
    John Kinsella
    Praise for Dan Burt 'His language is terse to the point of brutality; the verbs ferocious... his core conviction, formed by the history of the twentieth century and a lifetime in a non-literary world, is of "the curtain falling on the Enlightenment".' Elaine Feinstein, PN Review  'the verse flexes muscle after muscle. Burt is excellent on place and occasion... The writing... can hover and dance. It has genuine grace. Certain Windows is a very good book...'
    George Szirtes, Poetry Book Society
     'Full of hard-won wisdom and beautiful lines, it's testament to the transforming power of poetry.'
    Suzy Feay, the Independent
      'Dan Burt investigates the gaps between people, their cultures, their places of living. Between new and old worlds, between lives of deprivation and comfort, between inner and outer selves, there is something gritty and disturbing working away. From cynicism and anger to deeply felt and even traumatic elegy, these are the revelations and considerations of a life and the lives that contribute to and make one's own. In poems and prose that reach deep down into the reservoir of human loss, distress and need, comes hope. He is a writer of intensity and passion who is able to be wry when needs be. There are the costs, but there is also renewal.'
    John Kinsella
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