"These poems take great pleasure in the tension between the ripeness of the present moment and the grandeur of a past that refuses to completely disappear. Tasting both melancholy and intense joy, these are odes to the impossible but seemingly intrinsic human quest for eternity. Schaffer asks a question about afterlives, “How does one locate the source of / a fire when it has already combusted?” This lively, perceptive collection by a young poet attuned to the hallucinatory nature of an ancient city is a dedication to the eros of slow erosion, “dreams of duality / the ruined and the pristine.”
-Sun Yung Shin, author of Unbearable Splendor
"Schaffer’s poems navigate a city of contradictions. The narrator, like all who live in this city, moves among the ruins of an illustrious past she cannot reach out and touch: in this city, presence and absence are one and the same. And yet this paradox offers the poet her most playful, dazzling surprises. Observing the “tight-lipped leer” of a statue, its “ligaments taught / from supporting the weight / of an artistic transition” the narrator plummets into a new stanza where “the future contemplates the Kritios Boys / leans in contrapposto / and is frozen in time.” Even the future falls for this past, arrested by the boy’s beauty. But the poem does not surrender to nostalgia: the narrator, contemplating the long-dead artist, realizes “we each have duality / weighing upon us.” The beauty of contradiction belongs also to her, the present casts its own shadow. Resisting ornament, Schaffer chooses the ruins as they are, the place of the relationship as it is — a site where future, present, and past all stake their claim."
-Jessica Harkins, author of The Paled Guest
City of Contradiction by Lindsey Schaffer
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