Sympathetic Manifesto

Selected Poems 1975-2015

Doren Robbins


ISBN  978-1-952419-71-3         392 pages           $22.00


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Doren Robbins’ Sympathetic Manifesto is in the tradition, aesthetics and vision of Whitman, Williams, Rexroth, Neruda and other great poets while being uniquely his. His poems without clichés are in the way the mind actually works, the way narrative works in dream, the metaphorically rich talk at the workplace. Not cut to the bone language or the correctly crafted poem mostly taught today---he didn’t set out “to write like Marianne Moore or Stevens,” “language editing reality,” but from a “shamanic imagination,” a free rambling exploration, a breathtaking intensity, what the poems are saying (not displaying ) out of the reality in which they’re rooted, the way we live, think and know, line of thought rather than metaphor to replace thinking, dream and nightmare, language freed.  Memory as past reality, as evidence, as testimony, not fiction or fantasy as is largely maintained.  Memory as fidelity to our unbearable history that we must bear, fidelity to our present day realities.  Sympathetic Manifesto in brilliant poetry sees and says how bad things are, rants, raves and rebels, while it simultaneously ponders, struggles, sings, and loves.  Robbins doesn’t lay down another program to replace the reigning death one.  We have to see and say and out of that evolve not another program, but find freedom, fidelity to knowing and living. That, in its own, would be freedom from what imprisons us.  Sympathetic Manifesto: Sympathy for those who are imprisoned in the hell, Manifesto against that hell that must be overturned. Our history has been a perpetual back and forth, bad into good into bad, rather than forward, rather than some possible advancement.  Robbins’ liberating poetry moves the way we move through our trapped lives, but despairingly see freedom. He gives hope as does his original, superb art.

     Sharon Doubiago