144 Pages / Poetry
Kit Robinson’s Quarantina is a poetic diary that extends his practice of the discontinuous present into the history of our current global crises. In poems dated between early 2019 and late 2021, each with its own unique formal structure, one gets the sense of everything happening at once, as indeed it does. The simultaneities of daily life are explored through a range of emotional registers: dread, outrage, panic, humor, compassion, and delight. The poems are personal, political, philosophical, and musical, with a keen attention to rhythm and sound in language. “The poem arrives / Sooner or later / If at all / All the splendor / All the ardor / Spills out onto the table / The periodic table / The elements of our lives / Add up to / Minus a sudden breath.”
Praise for Quarantina
The history of poems written in confinement or exile extends through millennia to reach Kit Robinson’s Quarantina, whose rhyme between the isolation in which its poems were composed & a poet’s determination to touch & engage the world via solitude enables Kit to relax (he’s alone) while on his toes (he’s talking to you). The time to read Quarantina is now, because now—our strange new now—is what it’s all about.
Tom Mandel, author of Letter to Poetry
It’s easy to relish Kit Robinson’s poems for their attention to the particularities of the everyday amidst the blur of pandemic life. Written over a 21-month period before, during, and after the onset of the pandemic, these poems hit quick and smolder, jammed with content—a thought, a sound, a sight, a friend, reflections of the poem itself—lines stacking one after another, as the days stack up in life under quarantine. “Reading time like a book.” This book bears all that is profound and mundane about the passage of time in global crisis.
Syd Staiti, author of The Undying Present
Historically and culturally situated, the poems in Quarantina put into sharp focus frames of existence before and after the global pandemic. Their very sequencing enacts an eerie effect which reassigns the before moment its own special cachet, like “look ma, no hands!” With their time stamps and paratactic movement, these texts play up the Covid lexicon and ready-made expressions to hail us across our common track: “Stand clear of the sliding doors.” Attentive to the acoustic rhapsody of the natural world as well as tragic “I can’t breathe” notes, Robinson speaks “on the lip of death” in a lyric voice that translates “the planet as text.”
A secret philosopher who embeds truth in a poetic practice of instants accumulating into something more than whole—like a rainstorm of many tiny drops—Robinson constructs in Quarantina a narrative of thought to keep us all steady within our shared story of a time broken by a virus. Our unexpected suffering and some unanticipated delights are coolly observed and carefully deployed in a celebration of wit and integrity. With Robinson we learn as we plumb the nature of time—that ancient conundrum—made sparely contemporary in these crisp, neat lines. Quarantined within these brilliant works we rediscover a rich interior space in which to contemplate time and the times.
Rodger Kamenetz, author of Dream Logic
There is a distinctive pulse of contemporaneity to Kit Robinson’s craft and art. I admire the luminous consciousness, rage, empathy, and the immense range of this book. Outward and self-probing, the poems here are uncompromisingly multidimensional. I find their imaginative profundity refreshing. There is no hesitation in engaging with politics, urbanity, history, philosophy, nature, music, travel, friendship. This evanescent and versatile poet speaks to us all.
Uche Nduka, author of Scissorwork
What a pleasure to read Kit Robinson’s Quarantina! There’s a great variety of forms, purposes, and strategies throughout, but they all cohere in this story of the pandemic and who/whether we (and poetry) can survive and thrive in it. Dating the poems grounds them in daily reality, as his psyche and aesthetic interact with history and current affairs, e.g. “Hell No!” which brings together Crazy Horse and Jacob Blake. I like the strong sense of form/closure in each poem, the insistence of the everyday, having to deal with the pandemic and speculations about its meanings, the focus on language, the playfulness and humor. Great work!
John Mason, author of Fade to Prompt