Tau by Philip Lamantia and Journey to the End by John Hoffman
Pocket Poets Number 59
Edited by Garrett Caples
Notes by Garrett Caples
Exquisite Corpse—Journal of Letters and Life
May 28, 2008
"These are the early poems of Philip Lamantia that he was supposed to read at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955, when Allen Ginsberg read "Howl." Philip had misgivings about these poems, because he didn't think that they were worthy of his newly-found or re-found Catholic faith. From 2008 it's hard to see the problem: "On a smiling crevice of street,/He cuts, for death, the diamond of her eye:/ Star plumed hands put it/Burning on his brow." Sounds pretty Fra Angelico to us. John Hoffman (1928-1952) was Philip's friend who died young and wrote luminous Zen-inspired works. 'Therefore unattained is/ The sudden attainment.'"
The Beat Review
May 1, 2008
“The seventeen poems that make up Tau may well force a reevaluation by scholars of Lamantia’s evolution as a poet and realign the stars above the Beat Parnassus in the process. In terms of their sheer troping power, the poems are startlingly inventive, achieving their strange ambition with astonishing verve. In fact, it is Lamantia’s vatic stance and tone, consistent throughout these poems, that demands admiration. These are a young person’s poems, filled with the mystical fervor of someone who believes he is discovering and revealing new worlds.”
Brooklyn Rail Review
"In contrast to both the erotic rhapsodist of his early love poems and the demonic master of explosive imagery of his later works, Tau reveals a poet both anguished and elegant, a poet at home with doubt and dread, hermetic and devotional, for whom inner distances are the depths we as pilgrims and readers travel towards. . .Hoffman's work is the perfect compliment, equally dedicated to the presence of what each poet would have understood as the Absolute. . .Tau and Journey to the End are indispensable works that have never been read."
May 1, 2008
"Recovered and salvaged poems, biographical detective work, historical infilling, all in one perfectly formed little volume. City Lights are to be applauded for publishing this. Essential, absolutely essential for any reader of that Beats and all that means."
Pacific Rim Review of Books
"Tau is finally ours to explore. Its 17 poems capture the poet when we have least knowledge of him, and seem to bear witness to a crucial juncture, shot through with tense, self-interrogative formalities that close in on themselves as much as they open to jazz. . .
Phillip Lamantia and his friend, John Hoffman, speak to us in this book as if they were among us. The vivacity of their refusals, their revelations, their derangements, and the poems they left as witness then, will give us pause. And perhaps, for those open to it, this book will prompt us to consider, or re-consider, who and what has moved us most to risk what we can and cannot in our search for the marvelous, whenever and wherever we have found it; whenever and wherever it has found us.
Included in the volume are texts by Garret Caples, the book’s editor, who provides the kind of historical context and sensitive poetic commentary that readers will benefit from."