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In search of the "dateless lively heat" that Shakespeare sourced to Cupid, Daniel Tiffany mounts a Jarmanesque masque of punk pageantry and finds "the infamous promiscuity of things" in broad display. Here is delight in "making up": these poems are trannies, the mind of each earning its costume through misdirection and imposture, enabling fictions that reconcile the cosmetic and the cosmic noise all in a fit. The poet may wear his "wide-awake hat," but the shoes are cruel and the impersonation always off-target. As watchword, you have the poet's "slang for the pink redoubt," the chummy vulgarity beneath prosody's underthings, so where the sense is lost, canonical Paradise was unfounded anyway: say hello to the New Flesh. "The water never shows its face," nor language on the whole, so the poet's inclinations are perverse, seeking those "magic perpendiculars" that guide one through countless guises toward the maraschino middle, itself a muddle of Oz at its engine. Puppet Wardrobe is a pop-up book, surprise is in its element. It gives an incendiary look at the New Parnassus and goes all purple in the spying. But let him blush. It's just a thank you to Vertigo, whose party's not yet finished. Dream away, Gepetto. WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID "Supposing a doll of mysterious origin, a mechanical marvel, falls into your hands." So begins Daniel Tiffany's daring and brilliant Puppet Wardrobe. Each poem an echo chamber of song, cant, discourse letting loose an entire trove of voices, sayings, bending rhymes and jargonelle. What an ear lives here. Not since Eliot have we heard such a throwing of tavern talk. --Gillian Conoley Racy, playful, and ultimately rather ominous, these intricate poems gather up centuries in a single sweep and make it all shockingly pop. There is a brooding intelligence here, radiant with fireworks and emergency flares. A brilliant read. --Cole Swensen Decay, mire, ash and clouds are a given in Puppet Wardrobe - the words, the ideas, the poems we pilfer are filtered or partial or near full disintegration. But is the object, the language, the toy reproduced mechanically, or is it handmade, like Frankenstein, by the chemist? Profligate with form and meter, these poems are spirited by the unnamed slang-coiners from Englishes past, each but one species in the wardrobe that is the book's fierce, unified voice. This is a tremendously ambitious book and, stunningly, it meets these ambitions throughout. --Susan Wheeler Puppet Wardrobe is a pop-up book, surprise is in its element. Searching the "dateless lively heat" that Shakespeare sourced to Cupid, Daniel Tiffany finds "the infamous promiscuity of things" in broad display. As watchword, you have the poet's "slang for the pink redoubt," the chummy vulgarity beneath prosody's underthings. Say hello to the New Flesh. --Andrew Maxwell Puppet Wardrobe reveals, and revels in, a lavish, ravishing, erotic language somewhere between Middle English and Extreme English. Bawdy scenes glow fiercely in bonfire light, while neologism-sparks leap out, singeing and singing, with a distinctly 21st century sensibility. We arrive at a moment so magically post-Po-Mo, so new and strange it is almost familiar, like some long-hoped-for future world. All we can do is try and catch up and allow ourselves breathlessness at its visionary beauty. --Brenda Shaughnessy
About the Author
Daniel Tiffany received his training in the theater at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he studied with Marian Seldes and the great, modern clown, Bill Irwin. He later read modern and classical languages, with Norman O. Brown, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago and has published translations of works by Sophocles, Georges Bataille, and the Italian poet, Cesare Pavese. His critical works include Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound (Harvard University Press, 1995) and Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric (University of California Press, 2000), the latter named one of the "Best Books of 2000" by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. His poetry, which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has appeared in many journals, including Tin House, Boston Review, and the Paris Review. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Karolyi Foundation in France and been the recipient of a Whiting Fellowship. He lives in Venice, California, and teaches at the University of Southern California.