Free Cell

Free Cell
City Lights Spotlight No. 2





Publisher's Weekly

"Berrigan may have learned some of his disjunctive sprawl and spontaneity from his famous poet parents, Alice Notley and especially Ted Berrigan, but his poems have a kind of slacker cool and political awareness all his own . . . he is carrying his parents' tradition of poetry as a way of life, a community, proudly into the 21st century." —Publishers Weekly


The Midwest Book Review

"Free Cell is the latest collection of free-verse poetry from writing instructor and dedicated poet Anselm Berrigan. The words themselves revel in the freedom to assume any shape in this smoothly rolling collection of musings and insights. The natural flow of the verbal rhythm serves as the perfect counterpoint to the thought-provoking commentary in this excellent collection. 'Frailty puckers up to present': Frailty puckers up to present / gibberish in the agri-fab / spamways, helicopter can’t / swim, can’t junk tribal / penance for living off natty / whims so many pairs of / pants deny in fever’s dash. // The routine bites hard, ooze / a rapt factory heir teething / sway, ye olde time cleaners / spun off a granted project / of abeyance in the deep / trim that art savors, bent- / like, creaming dabbles.’"
—James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review


The Brooklyn Rail

"[Berrigan] digests and mercilessly composts an endless variety of speech, with an excellent ear for the comedy of the banal—the sounds of corporate brainstorming sessions, rich people, even the unsympathetic reader. . . When he writes 'I like moving / your careful parts about,' he must be addressing Language, and reading this poem one gets the impression Berrigan may go on moving her parts indefinitely, as he follows the ominous momentum of these poems ‘Back to the brink, as ever.’" — Julia Powers, The Brooklyn Rail


Galatea Resurrects

"Anselm Berrigan's voice continues be one of the most refreshing in contemporary American poetry, for its singular welding of candor, political awareness, and humor that attempts, with a very high rate of success, to co-opt the commercial and political jargon of our times to return it to higher purposes (which here include but are not limited to free speech, dead-on paeans to and condemnations of contemporary life, and love)."
—Virginia Konchan


The Brake Lights

"Anselm Berrigan's free radical poetry chops your hands off mid-line, drops the book into your lap, and caresses you with disquiet indie pop allusions and echoes of ubiquitous advertising absurdities as it cheers on that last ill-intentioned pint before the crestfallen exit from the pub on a Monday night while ambitiously and unambiguously telling you it might not be OK, but I wouldn't know anyway."
—Jason Eric Jensen


awdart.vox.com

"The lines through-out are high strung wires of speech act and innovative lyric. . . . [The work] could be climbed for days, years even. Yet it isn't insurmountable. It unravels with enough common linguistic rope to be followed by a smart and curious kid. The kid has to want to make the climb and that is one of the hardest tricks to pull off with integrity intact. Anselm does his best, using varied speeds, humor, drama, flat conceptual art movements giving pause to heightened lyricism, sharp images, double speak, puns, weird juxtapositions. Yet the integrity part is an essential element. It isn't any trick at all, but an intuitive sense of felt empathy which is the biggest carrot to the untried reader."


The Poetry Project Newsletter

"These are poems about getting by in the human universe through 'the icing of all personal / bureaucracies,' offices of existence where small and large injustices trigger passions within us that cannibalize us down to appetizers until we can regenerate in the company of fellow travelers." Paul Killebrew


Book Review: Anselem Berrigan - Free Cell.
Sep 11, 2009

"Anselem Berrigan's Free Cell is a book-length poem divided into three parts -- 'Have a Good One,' 'Let Us Sample Protection Together,' and 'To Hell With Sleep.' It is his fourth book of poetry, and it's published by City Lights. 'Have a Good One' invokes Stephan Mallarme's 'Un Coup De Des Jamais N'abira Le Hazard,' even meta-name-checks it as the reader goes through the verse (Production values / among other grandchildren / of Mallarme), where he encounters unexpected puns (Must we demand / of our pop tarts / a public crack-up / during war time?), jokes (Kingfisher sighting sparks / epic stroll), lines that strike us (I'm micromanaging nausea, Monolithic derelict fuck), neologisms (droolsultory, public meltups), and then there are the thetic chunks...

It is a book designed to be read melodically, in and of itself, and that is something a review can't fully convey.

And but, and yet, and still: this is a smart, strong book, and it's well worth your time."

- Blog Made for the Purposes of One Post

Have a Good One: A Profile of Anselm Berrigan
Sep 1, 2009

". . . Berrigan—whose fourth book of poems, Free Cell, is published by City Lights this month—has a relationship to poetry that's a little different from most. He grew up literally surrounded by the stuff. His father, Ted Berrigan, was a major figure in the second generation of New School poets who lived and wrote in and around the East Village in the sixties and seventies. . . . His mother, poet Alice Notley, the future Pulitzer Prize finalist, had just begun publishing her work. . . . Berrigan's new book, Free Cell, is composed of two long poems bridged by a forty-three-line poem titled 'Let us Sample Protection Together.'"

- Kevin Larimer, Poets and Writers

Peacock Online Review: Anselm Berrigan
Aug 5, 2010

Read new work from Anselm Berrigan, author of Free Cell.

- Peacock Online Review

Anselm Berrigan's Free Cell
Sep 28, 2009

"Why do I think that, out of Rosenberg's The American Action Painters (originally 1952, reprint’d in Tradition of the New), in considering Anselm Berrigan’s Free Cell (City Lights, 2009), particularly in the initial long piece / sequence 'Have a Good One'? (The book consists of 'Have a Good One,' a two-page piece originally order’d by the Composers Collaborative—Berrigan work’d with David First—call’d 'Let Us Sample Protection Together'—beginning with the fully O’Hara-inflect’d 'When I was little I cut off the heads / of many lords. I can’t count on the energy / that took to rise in me at will, but I’ve / strengthened my ability to make a stand-firm surface,' that combo of nonchalant myth-making and flattish data, the personal poised in-between), and a final sequence, 'To Hell with Sleep.')"

- John Latta, Isola di Rifiuti

12 or 20 questions: with Anselm Berrigan
Aug 26, 2009

"I am influenced by commercials, timing as related to comedy, acting as related to bad screenplay writing, conversation, speech patterns of all kinds (occasionally in songs or other media with pre-recorded verbal matter, but mostly live), and science fiction as found in comic books, graphic novels, cable television, and cinema. I have also made use of hotel buildings, train commutes, zeros and ones, and the forms of numerous visual art works as models for poetic forms, though I tend not to cite the art works involved beyond responding to my experience of them within the poems."

- Rob McLennan, rob mclennan's blog