Nervous Device

Nervous Device
City Lights Spotlight Series No. 8

In Nervous Device, Catherine Wagner takes inspiration from William Blake's "bounding line" to explore the poem as a body at the intersection between poet and audience. Using this figure as a model for various sexual, political, and economic interactions, Wagner's poems shift between seductive lyricism and brash fragmentation as they negotiate the failure of human connection in the twilight of American empire. Intellectually informed, yet stubbornly insistent on their own objecthood, and taking a bewildering variety of forms, the poems of Nervous Device express a self-conscious skepticism about the potential for human connection even as they maintain an optimistically charged eroticism.

"Wagner's fourth collection contains poems of memory and dark artifice. She writes with an obscure, magnetic lens... the linguistic tightness of these poems are highlights of Wagner's collection."—Publisher's Weekly

"Nervous Device is such a smart book. You never know where the poems are going to take you, or when some startling, often cringe-making image or thought will intrude. Unable to settle into a comfortable rhetorical space, these poems reject simple claims to knowing something or doing right or changing the world. Rather, they move like an erratic insect stuck in a language bell jar. Brilliant, and disturbing."—Jennifer Moxley

"Nervous device, the human machine, palpitating inside its own little bounding lines. These poems do everything the human device does, vibrating like an electrified tornado inside a glass jar, and make this reader profoundly alive to huge swathes of being. There is no machine for mastering the self (yet), but there are Cathy Wagner's poems."—Eleni Sikelianos

"The poems in Nervous Device resonate with a knowing nod to time and the difficulty and struggle of being sentient and intimate—of loving while being human. This is poetry connectivity: sexy, poignant, knowing. And the poems here make me feel possible."—Hoa Nguyen

Title Nervous Device
Subtitle City Lights Spotlight Series No. 8
Publisher City Lights Publishers
BISAC Subject Heading POE000000 POETRY
Title First Published 16 October 2012
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 80 p.
ISBN-10 0872865657
ISBN-13 9780872865655
Publication Date 16 October 2012
Main content page count 80
Weight 16 oz.
List Price $13.95

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erotic poetry, fragmented poetry, lyric poetry, poetry about the difficulties of intimacy, poetry about the failure of human connection