The King of Prussia is Drunk on Stars
ISBN 978-1-956921-22-9 (paperback)
120 pages: $19.95
In this newest collection by award-winning multilingual poet and translator, Marc Vincenz, we traverse lunarscapes and more earthly seasonal time-spaces. The King of Prussia is Drunk on Stars is a liminal peek into the galaxy of our mortality where, like Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, death is inscribed on our bodies. These poems explore the moment our passions challenge our destinies, when “summer has forgotten us,” and when we travel into the eternal blue of the mind and find the “domed umbrella of light:” an essential prayer to life on earth and elsewhere.
“If it were my death tonight, / all those old taboos // would melt into my skin / in their hunt for meaning,” Marc Vincenz tells us in his remarkable new collection, The King of Prussia Is Drunk on Stars. And melt they do, blurring reality and imagination; his words and images probe the protective layers of the human endeavor to act, to make art, to love.… Vincenz’s images startle with a disarming profundity, interrogating the dark places—yet places that always yield the light of possibility that language offers: “a place like none other, soaked / in heavenly light, where deep down in the water / you can see where the darkness lives.” …. Vincenz says, “Fill in all the wilderness, / will you. I know: // Love me in one death.” Yet the poet’s persistence endures.… Marc Vincenz’s stunning new book is an intoxicating adventure, presenting language anew, and creating swirling worlds of sorrow and resolve. “Let’s open up the world for a day,” he tells us. “Put your feet up. This is a soundproof mountain.”
—George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014–2016)
What do we make of our before’s afterlives? Marc Vincenz’s The King of Prussia is Drunk on Stars proffers a Wunderkammer of adventures, voices, parallel cries, to make us believe in the porosity of the world. Is it ours, inhabited by gods or ghosts? “Heave ho, Li Po!” Are we in a movie, a painting, a wine-soaked dream? Things are not what they seem. Vincenz conjures a centaur poetics where anything may be attached to anything else: “from the underside of the world she emerged as an eel / out of the carcass of a waterlogged horse.” Homophonic play keeps the narrative loose—“the left hand turns the key, unattached, artfully”—and a comestible peck of prose poems stocks the larder. Hold on, it’s a drunken sleigh ride, a Franz become Franzl after the trifle: “we were jaded in the scale, just above where the fleshy part dwells, or perhaps, on another scale, we had found the best flesh.” What a wonderful bacchanalian pleasure.
This elegant, beautifully crafted collection moves effortlessly between Earth—with sidewalks splattered with dead letters, patches of tar and pitch, geese colluding in the hedgerows—and the heavens, where multiple moons cast wary glances, and the stars are witness to grass yearning upward. Like wings drawn to light, “everything finally ends up in the sky.” In between, in the section “A Year of Icelandic Ash,” the poet finds everyday meaning in the mysteries of the huldufólk, supernatural beings of Icelandic folklore, bridging two realms with quotidian words that still speak (of) magic.