About Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak
In this new book, New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary offers a high-spirited exploration of the vexations of life in 2020-2021, from social media giants to pandemic inequity to a concrete poem about a landfill. Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak is a book distinctly for the times. Federal judges hide behind houseplants, a sonnet explodes from sexism, statues of penthouse dictators are toppled, and a mountain threatens to drop on top of a hiker as an act of homophobia. Poems take on social media: emoji are at war in a mural outside the cafeteria of a social media company; there are troll farms and cyber-attacks by bootlegger hornets; and 100,000 early Christian martyrs try to figure out the on-switch to a lost-and-found I-pad in a crypt.
The poems interact with other kinds of writing, including wedding announcements, grant applications, and immigration policies, as Peary reconsiders issues of originality, repurposing, and quoting. Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak dissolves boundaries of genre, opening with an ars poetica introduction and closing with a prose piece, “Deca-Meron,” a refashioning of Boccaccio’s 14th century account of plague. Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is transposed onto a VFW Hall for a bachelor’s party. A Clarice Lispector short story turns into a trash-can raid by nocturnal wildlife. After biting a blue “apple,” a narrator in another poem goes on a wild ride in a 21st century remake of Adam-Eve’s choice, this one involving cyber criminals, the dark web. As Peary says, who would have guessed? She sheds innocence of “just being a poet” or being a citizen, while giving a toast at a feast of reading and being alive.
Pieces in this book made previous appearances in New American Writing, Yale Review, Shearsman Magazine, North American Review, Green Mountains Review, Hotel Amerika, Boston Review, web Conjunctions, Barrow Street, and Plume and received a nomination for 2021 Best of the Net.
Laura Mullen says of Alexandria Peary that she is “one of those wonderful writers who know how to stay, as de Kooning put it, ‘on the edge of something.’”
—Laura Mullen, Poetry Foundation
Words and their things are brought into dramatic tension. As in nature mort, the everyday becomes sublime in color and relation, but this is not a quiet, painterly book. It is active and intermittent, and nothing passes its watch. On occasion, Peary comments through a fourth wall window to address the reader, and poetry itself is one of the guests at table, “all geometry and glass.”
—Paul Hoover on The Water Draft
What an exquisitely witty and ingenious book. Alexandria Peary’s The Water Draft plucks experimentalism out of the dull classrooms of postmodern theory and takes it joyriding through madhouse America. Half surrealist romp, half anti-art, half taxonomy of our bizarro nation, these poems are wholly a love song to irreverence.
—Jaswinder Bolina on The Water Draft
Alexandria Peary, writing in the unsentimental tradition of Bishop and Moore, transports their delectable particularity onto our distractible age. The Water Draft has an idea of order, but Peary is always pushing past it and into her very own territory, where the unexpected can occur, and does, with satisfying regularity. Peary writes singular poems with “a ballpoint pen / found in a ruined villa.”
—Donna Stonecipher on The Water Draft
Control Bird Alt Delete is a great book. It’s descriptive, poetic, interior, and technological, often within the same sentence. But it’s firmly located in an American present of rest areas, stores we all know and “men made entirely of denim” And it sounds great; Peary’s music is just beautiful.
—Matthew Rohrer on Control Bird Alt Delete
“The topos is New England archaeology; it’s Colorforms and Legos; Charley Harper landscapes become interiors; we are delighted to already find ourselves where we couldn’t possibly get to.”
—Caroline Knox on Control Bird Alt Delete
Alexandria Peary reveals the many readers that we are, following labyrinthine lines through magical—sometimes scary—sculpture gardens made of words…It’s a world supercharged by an alchemical meta-poetics, making the physical and textual morph into each other so fluidly, it feels like we’re reading a page that’s actually water mirroring back at us.
—Steve Healey on The Water Draft
I can think of few poets of her generation who manage so successfully to fuse free-wheeling linguistic play with deep emotional force. In a land of easy answers, she is the guide who asks us, “Where have all the questions gone?” Peary is a marvel.
—Peter Campion on Lid to the Shadow
Alexandria Peary serves as New Hampshire Poet Laureate. She is the author of nine books, including The Water Draft, Control Bird Alt Delete, Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing, and the COVID Spring anthologies. Her work has received a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship, Best of NH, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and several Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations. Her creative nonfiction piece, “Hello to All That,” was selected as Notable Essay for the 2021 Best American Nonfiction. She specializes in mindful writing and gives frequent talks on the topic, including a recent webcast for National Novel Writing Month, a TEDx talk, presentations for New Hampshire Humanities, and a popular webinar for the National Council of Teachers of English. Her activities as poet laureate include directing the 2020 North Country Young Writers’ Festival, helping NH writers publish, and facilitating mindful writing workshops for people affected by the opioid crisis. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Under the Madness, a new literary magazine edited by NH teens, currently open for submissions. More info can be found at the Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/alexandria-peary and at her blog: https://newhampshirepoetlaureate.blogspot.com/ Follow Alex on Twitter @NHPoetLaureate or @Writemindfully.