White Spaces: Poetry by Paul Auster
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White Spaces: Poetry by Paul Auster

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White Spaces gathers the poetry and prose of Paul Auster from various small-press books issued throughout the seventies. These early poetic works are crucial for understanding the evolution of Auster’s writing. Taut, lyrical, and always informed by a powerful and subtle music, his poems begin with basics—a swallow’s egg, stones, roots, thistle, “the glacial rose”—and push language to the breaking point. As Robert Creeley wrote, “The enduring power of these early poems is their moving address to a world all too elusive, too fragmented, and too bitterly transient.” Auster’s poems are grounded in a physical utterance that is at once an exploration of the mind and of the world. This collection begins with compact verse fragments from Spokes (originally published in Poetry, 1971) and goes through Auster’s marvelous later collections including Wall Writing (The Figures, 1976), Facing the Music (Parenthèse, 1979), and White Spaces (Station Hill, 1980).

From the spook of ‘Spokes’ and the parabolic philosophical chiaroscuro of ‘White Spaces’ to the gnomic sighs of what’s in between, Paul Auster’s poems shimmer at the edges with audacious grace and uncanny soulfulness.
—Charles Bernstein
Anyone interested in the origins of Paul Auster’s art, its ground, will find these intense early sequences, these liminal austerities, of great interest. Auster’s is a poetry of extreme lyric condensation.
—Michael Palmer