MadHat Press

Robert Desnos Finds by George Kalamaras

Praise for Robert Desnos Finds 
His Sleep Medicines Beneath Bachelard’s Floorboards


“How simple and strange everything is,” to quote Robert Desnos, one of two epigraphs beginning this collection. It could serve as a distillation of Kalamaras’s aesthetic. There’s always a feeling of devotion moving through his lines, though I wouldn’t call it piety. It’s a quality of attention, the kind one would associate with a Zen tea ceremony, or Zen poet Takahashi Shinkichi. It’s a reverence of the marvelous, and everything in Kalamaras’s world is a marvel, be it the skull of a musk deer or a pot of oolong tea. Kalamaras creates an arena in which the sensory reality of things—their inherent whatness, the ontic immediacy of things—combines with the opacity of his words, their double capacity for caprice and revelation, and shines out like morning light on a river. Kalamaras has mastered a way of speaking not just about things, but from within them. The overall effect is one of elation, a dilation of Being, which has once more taken flight.
—John Olson, author of Dada Budapest

Take this couplet as primary realization of the initiation rite true poetry always is: “Still, it will always be a familiar regret astonishing my mouth. / I grew up that way, always afraid of what air I might speech.” To turn air into speech has its consequences—often lovely, occasionally harrowing, as bittersweet & sweetbitter as dreams themselves are, and just as revelatory. George Kalamaras evokes into presence two ancestors of the art he practices, Robert Desnos and Gaston Bachelard. One reminds us to keep the mind half-asleep so dreams can etch their worthy work on the still-blank slate of the world’s unconscious; the other reminds us that we live in the house of our body, and the attic mind has a dumbwaiter that plumbs to the root cellar. It’s a haunted house—the mind, the poem. Kalamaras knows. Karma works out its issues in finely wrought lines, and all the elders are there, gossiping about the poet gossiping about them. What a gift this book is—letting us eavesdrop on the wonder.
—Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Variations on Dawn and Dusk


Robert Desnos Finds His Sleep Medicines
Beneath Bachelard’s Floorboards
by George Kalamaras
$21.95, paperback, 132 pp
ISBN-13:  978-1-952335-81-5


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