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Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour by Conor Bracken

$12.00

by Conor Bracken

Winner of the 2017 Frost Place Chapbook Competition
selected by Diane Seuss

ISBN: 978-1-4951-5768-4
Softcover, 35 pages.

also available as eBook

SKU: 978-1-4951-5768-4 Categories: , Tags: , , ,

Description

The debut collection of poems by Conor Bracken, winner of the 2017 Frost Place Chapbook Competition, strips Henry Kissinger—a synecdoche for Eurocentric heteropatriarchy and US Cold War transgressions—naked, and is as transfixed as it is horrified by what it sees. From the Great Rift Valley to southeastern France to the cobbled streets of Buenos Aires, Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour traces the sticky footprints of Western power structures, conjuring the more decrepit and indefensible postures of US Cold War policy, while sussing out the contours of the totalitarian worldview that nourishes them.

The poems of Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour manage to construct a Kissinger who is both a radioactive archetype for white patriarchal sociopathy and as tangible as a liver-spotted hand. Kissinger is translated to us by speaker-as-middle-man holding the tyrant’s “x-rays to the moon’s blue light,” as boy toy, apologist, and victim, disfigured by his dance with devil, anti-heroic in his collusion with tyranny with just a whiff of gallantry in his willingness to kiss and tell. These poems churn the guts and delight the senses, the language precise, juicy, with a napalm-shimmer, the diction creating a self-deluded truth teller, “striving towards a whiteness that’s translucent,” in turns absurd, hilarious, entertaining, post-traumatic, and terribly sad, drenched in a sort of post-coital shame and yet an unquenchable, awful desire. “As American/…As the cruise missile in his living room/we take turns straddling like a mustang,” Conor Bracken has written the perfect collection for our time.
—Diane Seuss

Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour is a forceful, unsettling collection not only for its latitude of address that finds complexity—psychological, sexual, and political—in the figure of a former statesman who appears, by turns, as sadistic paramour, war hawk, and blundering accomplice. Obtained from that summons are poems distressed by the seductions of whiteness, by the entitlements of masculinity, and by U.S. liability in the machinations of state terror elsewhere in the hemisphere. Ritualistic, and foaming at the mouth with abject laughter, Bracken’s poems are a purging of American infamy and about the messy compromises made when the exceptional romance is over.
—Roberto Tejada

The poems in Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour are wild imaginaries that bend, shift and turn unexpectedly to remind us that no human is uncomplicated or undamaged. Through the lens of an unnamed speaker whose lover is Henry Kissinger, Conor Bracken masterfully plumbs the tangled connections inherent in power, sexuality, violence, privilege, and desire via luminous figurative language, snappy dialogues, and wickedly smart mediations. This book is an unforgettable tour de force of inventiveness and grace.
—Erika Meitner

Conor Bracken is a poet, translator, and educator. His chapbook, Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour, was selected by Diane Seuss as winner of the fifth annual Frost Place Chapbook Competition (Bull City Press, 2017), and his debut collection of poems, The Enemy of My Enemy is Me, winner the 2020 Diode Editions Book Prize, was published in 2021.

His translation work focuses on francophone poetry. Scorpionic Sun (CSU Poetry Center, 2019), his translation of Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s first full-length collection of poems, was the first English translation of the avant-garde Moroccan writer’s work. Another translation—of Jean D’Amérique’s No Way in the Skin without this Bloody Embrace—was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2022 and is D’Amérique’s first appearance in English. It was a finalist for the 2023 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

His work has earned him fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Community of Writers, Cornell’s Institute for Comparative Modernities, The Frost Place, Inprint, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and can be found in places like BOMB, New England Review, the New Yorker, Ploughshares, and West Branch. He lives in Ohio, teaches classes with LitCleveland, and teaches in the Liberal Arts department at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour features a painting by Durham artist Jenny Blazing.

 

Additional information

Weight .25 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 × .25 in

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