Arc Tangent is composed of two prose-poem sequences, ‘Arc Tangent’ and ‘Table of Primaries’, hybrid works made up of prose, poetry and fragments collaged from a working notebook, and occasionally using appropriated text. Although the composition processes of the the two sequences were different – the title piece was assembled using a cut-and-paste method which left the author’s kitchen wall plastered with text fragments and word combinations while ‘Table of Primaries’ was composed in a more linear fashion – both pieces show evidence of Eric Selland’s deep roots in the American Modernist tradition and his lifelong experience with the language and poetry of Japan. His writing is dense, allusive, philosophically informed, and combines the surprise and formal interest of collage with a striking unity of tone, a haibun-like lyricism, and a powerful engagement with issues of displacement, exile and ‘at-home-ness’.
‘For all its formal dazzle, this is a deeply expressive book, often tinged with sadness. The first part shifts between prose, haibun, line-broken normative statements, and more intensely elliptical and syntactically acrobatic lyric. The second section then draws together much of the fracture of the earlier poems into an assemblage of observations on loss, distance, age, and stretched connections. A stunningly accomplished book.’ – Forrest Gander
‘Eric Selland’s lyric work possesses a poise and nuance reminiscent of the French symbolist vision of Japonisme, wherein the slightest brushstroke or flute-breath causes the entire universe to veer. This is writing that moves along the verge of the unsayable, enacting a deep study of the mystery of everyday life.’ – Andrew Joron
‘Arc Tangent’s exquisite poetic life collage challenges our perception like a delicate puzzle whose truths intersect, changing as they move through the present moment, yet fitting together perfectly even as they pass. Your hand finds comfort turning these pages, image disappears into question then reappears profoundly unanswered, as sound submerges amid clear water.’ – Colleen Lookingbill
November 2013. Paperback. 72 pages. 8.5 x 5.5. ISBN 978-4-907359-01-0.
Click here to download a PDF excerpt from Arc Tangent.
Click here to see a video of Eric Selland reading an extract from Arc Tangent at the launch of the book in January 2014.
Click here to buy Arc Tangent from the London Review Bookshop.
Erratum: One of the poetry journals where parts of Arc Tangent first appeared was inadvertently omitted from the book’s acknowledgements page, which should read: ‘Portions of “Arc Tangent” first appeared in Untitled: A Journal of Prose Poetry, and in First Intensity, while some selections from “Table of Primaries” first appeared in 26 Magazine.’