Kraushaar, The Uncertainty Principle
by James Fenton
(Judge of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, 2010)
pp, ISBN: 978-1904130-50-5, £8.99 (paperback only),
Publication, 8 November 2011
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note about The Uncertainty Principle
In his splendid new collection,
Mark Kraushaar addresses a tentative and awkward, sometimes
funny though frequently heart-breaking struggle to find a
path to meaning in the world, a task made more difficult still
by the struggle itself. In Cake a man arriving
too late for his own small birthday party, unable to cajole
his exasperated and saddened wife and daughter into staying,
watches them exit the diner in which the three have met, then
finally opens a book. As the waitress approaches, the narrator
asks, And what in Hell is he reading? Towards
the end of Chiropractor Claims to Travel Through Time
(a poem inspired by an AP story), the central character observes
of his father, He tried, I know, / but every evening
/ watching him watch the tv / I wondered what clues had eluded
him. / Constricted, uncontent, incomplete, / what secret had
he judges foreword
A note on Mark Kraushaar
Kraushaar was born in Washington DC and grew up outside Boston
in Concord, Massachusetts. He attended Marlboro College in Vermont,
where he studied literature and writing, worked briefly as a
high school English teacher, then as a cab driver in Boston.
After this, he moved to London for two years and travelled in
Europe. Back in the States he lived for a time in New York City
and again in Boston. He attended trade school in Louisville,
Kentucky, worked as a welder on the coal and grain barges on
the Mississippi and then moved to the state of Mississippi,
where he worked as a pipe welder at Ingalls Shipbuilding. He
moved to Wisconsin after two years at the shipyard, worked in
construction as a pipe welder but found this was definitively
not my dish and so went to nursing school in Madison,
Wisconsin. He has worked as an RN in Madison since the mid-80s.
His work has appeared in the Hudson Review, Ploughshares,
Alaska Review, Gettysburg Review, as well as Best
American Poetry, and the website Poetry Daily. He
has been featured in the Missouri Review as well as Michigan
Quarterly and has been a recipient of Poetry Northwests
Richard Hugo Award. A previous collection, Falling Brick
Kills Local Man, was a finalist for the May Swenson Award,
the Juniper Prize and the Walt Whitman Award, and was published
in 2009 by the University of Wisconsin Press as winner of the
Felix Pollak Prize.
for The Uncertainty Principle
Once a student told me her father said that when older
people cry, theyre weeping because the world is beautiful
they already know its sad. Mark Kraushaars
poems, too, look beyond the sorrow and find instead a world
thats almost unbearably lovely. I fell hard for Falling
Brick Kills Local Man, Kraushaars first book; I have
an even bigger crush on this one. David Kirby
A bell goes tolling over the landscape of Mark Kraushaars
The Uncertainty Principle and its burden is Moment, moment
The word keeps recurring in this engrossing collection.
Kraushaar sometimes seems temperamentally as much short story
writer as poet (something to be regretted only by those who
would keep poetry pure of lifes muddy complexities), and
many of his poems offer rich, beguiling, abbreviated narratives.
The book abounds in character revelations perhaps too modest
to be called epiphanies but moments, even so, whose unlikely
glimmerings are welcome and illuminating. Brad
Mark Kraushaars The Uncertainty Principle is
the best counterargument to the specious claim that narrative
poetry is either old fashioned, linear or predictably
conventional. These poems have all the excitement
and complexity of life as we live it now, together with a depth
of speculation that is positively stunning in the light it casts
on the intimate nooks and crannies of social experience that
all of us encounter but either fail to notice or find words
for. The sensation of time is Kraushaars ultimate subject,
but he approaches time so imaginatively, so freshly, through
such a detailed range of voices and occasions, in poems that
unfold in such surprising yet inevitable ways that one feels
as if every other possible subject for a poem love, death,
the struggles of dailiness, the fear of loss, friendship and
work, childhood, contingency, and lack of faith has been
woven into the netting of this one obsession. This is a book
to be enjoyed and savored, to be read with pleasure and gratitude,
to be learned by heart. Alan Shapiro
of The Uncertainty Principle
Review, Summer 2012
you're paying any attention at all to the people you dodge on
the street, sit next to in the left-turn lane until the light
changes, hear swearing quietly somewhere or anywhere, then you're
ready to listen to what Mark Kraushaar has to offer, poems that
aren't excuses, aren't explanations, just the sharply rendered
facts of the matter. And on a rainy day at the gym, five guys
who know way too much of the truth about each other and so about
themselves see what there is to see in the 'rattling' plate
glass: 'rain on the awnings, rain over the windows, / rain over
the gutters and rain / in soft, sparkling ropes along the curbs
. . .' ('Third Street Muscle and Fitness'). And Henry, all the
evasions of his abandoned marriage confessed, pretty much sums
it up: 'The Sox are strong this year, / we're going places,
I can feel it' ('There sat down, once, a thing on Henry's heart
so heavy')."And that's the way it is, in these poems
that read like recognitions, compassionate undoings of those
"gentle fictions" ("Blind Date") we tell
ourselves just to keep on moving, just to get by.
Taxi, Spring 2012
narrative poetry has a fresh voice that is funny, challenging
and profound. The secret to being happy, he says, is not to
get twisted up by all that has been or what might happen, but
to pay attention to the 'gorgeous, and impenetrable present.'"
Hayden's Ferry Review, 14 November 2011
Holy [ ______ ] (your choice of divine but completely
politically correct descriptor here), Kraushaars
poems rock. Im going to drop some of the standard poetic
analysis here, not because Kraushaars work doesnt
live up to it it certainly does but because it
is so organic, has such spontaneity, such a gut-punch of recognition,
that I feel freed to do so. While Im in the grip of this
strong sense of permission, Im going to use it to use
a few words that some poets might consider anathema when applied
to their work: effortless, narrative, characterization, and
fun." Debrah Lechner
read the whole of this review, click on the link below:
The narrative quality of this poetry and the convincing characterization
of the many portraits this poet paints creates an effortless
reading experience, and that causes an impact that strikes with
maximum speed and potency. Its a little like taking a
drug intravenously rather than swallowing it. And its
fun to read aloud; its poetry that is meant to be shared.
The Uncertainty Principle
Third Street Muscles and Fitness
It's rained all night,
and it's rained all day, and by evening
when I get to the gym it's started to thunder.
Still, here we are anyway, all of us, all the regulars,
George and Phil and Johnny B and Bob
and me and the big guy, the lifter from Janesville.
So first off George (who's zipping his coat)
asks Phil who's on the treadmill and the only
one raising a sweat will he run a mile
for every beer last night.
Which very funny, but Phil follows with, Hey,
I'm not drinking any more in '08
(beat, beat) but I'm not
drinking any less either which, again,
very funny except we all know Phil has
problems with alcohol, but since he's getting no laughs
he looks up and on the tv over the rowing machine
there's the real life trial of a woman, blond
and twenty-three, a teacher who's
had sex with an eighth grade boy.
Are you kidding, says George,
Are you kidding, says Phil, I'd clap her erasers,
and someone else, I'd polish her fruit,
and everybody's nodding yes and yes again
until, at last, George who's had problems with school
and problems with money and women and work
tells us he'd have majored in meredial reading
which is where the tv goes to an ad
and George waves once and steps into the weather.
So as the rainy wind flips his cheap rug straight
off his head like a flattened cat
it's strange, nobody's laughing, in fact, we're quiet
Phil with his crashed marriage and the daughter
on drugs, and even handsome Bob
and Johnny B, even the big guy
with those silly disproportionate arms,
and for a moment, for a discrete, small portion
of what I will one day refer to as the past,
there's the five of us facing three
double-door sized panes
of rattling glass:
rain on the awnings, rain over the windows,
rain over the gutters and rain
in soft, sparkling ropes along the curbs,
and into the drains and under the ground.
The Dead Know
They know to keep quiet.
But they would tell you don't worry.
They would tell you there's
sloping gentle fields and a marvelous light.
They'd whisper, Mister,
take it easy, they would signal Madam, buy a hat.
They would tell you start again, rent a room, move
forward, breathe a little, read a little,
take a walk, watch your step.
They would tell you God
wears plaid pants, six-eyelet
oxfords, and a wrist watch, Helbros, gold.
They would tell you God's
a girl in third grade knotting Her shoe.
They would tell you God's a man with cracked glasses
mowing His yard, or He lives with Lilly,
His wife, and a son named Sal.
They would tell you He works in auto body repair
and plays the guitar.
They would tell you He's thought up Himself,
that He thinks up botany and basketball,
eczema, mustard, and mayhem.
They would tell you He makes up the malls
and the back-alleys, the droplets, and the tiny specks
and spores, and the long, loud parties
that reach deep into the morning and mean
for someone a meeting, for someone
a mating and for someone a crashed
yellow Chevy and a trip to the joint.
They would say He makes up the frowsy freeways
and the dirty everyday, or that regarding a white cloud
in the shape of a thumbless glove, He thinks up breakfast
with bacon that sizzles and curls on itself like a lie
may never speak of this even to Himself.
What do the dead know?
They've signed on to keep quiet,
but if they could tell you they would,
and if they could they would comfort you.
They'd tell you, Go on and be happy, try it.