Listen to Anselm Berrigan read from Free Cell at our City Lights podcast page.
The second installment of the City Lights Spotlight poetry series, Free Cell is the latest collection from Anselm Berrigan, one of the most significant American poets under 40. Consisting of two experimental suites—"Have a Good One" and "To Hell with Sleep"—connected by the central poem "Let Us Sample Protection Together," Free Cell is Berrigan's most ambitious work to date, a spiritual autobiography wrapped in an exploration of form. His work combines the freneticism of his New York environment with oblique humor, political angst, and a reflective, lyrical interrogation of his own subjectivity: "For my part it's/ been an honor/ to be at someone's/ service, though doing/ so has diminished/ my expiration date/ and my astral self-/ projection has already/ fled in bitter tears/ having used up even addiction."
"Step outside with your language as Anselm Berrigan moves the parts about, seeing them dive through distress to rally with duly measured exhortation. The pitch is feverish: a topical Season in Hell, restorative history lessons during intermission, followed by a kind of precisely tumbling Grosse Fugue. The sensations never quit. (Poetry's our sole 'hedge against protection'?) This is a book to clear the decks."
"Impacted, trenchant, turbulent, heartbreaking and funny too, Free Cell is one poet's free fall through the streaming kaleidoscopic pixilated cacophony of now. Anselm Berrigan has consistently, and always boldly, delivered the news of his generation's angle of incident."
"The world of Free Cell keeps repeating "have a good one" over and over, in anger, in sarcasm, and also just because it's what one needs to hear to keep going. Anselm Berrigan is the poet of the bodily breakdown, the poet of lyric memory, the poet that is this testy and yet also beautiful world needs right now."