- PUBLISHED: February 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Literature / Poetry, Pacific Northwest
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 96 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 0 illustrations
- SERIES: Pacific Northwest Poetry Series
- ISBN: 9780295744537
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Inspired by Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour, and sharing the spirit of Tomas Transtromer’s Baltics and Yehuda Amichai’s Time, Republic Café is a meditation on love during a time of violence, and a tally of what appears and disappears in every moment. Mindful of epigenetic experience as our bodies become living vessels for history’s tragedies, David Biespiel praises not only the essentialness of our human memory, but also the sanctity of our flawed, human forgetting.
A single sequence, arranged in fifty-four numbered sections, Republic Café details the experience of lovers in Portland, Oregon, on the eve and days following September 11, 2001. To touch a loved one’s bare skin, even in the midst of great tragedy, is simultaneously an act of remembering and forgetting. This is a tale of love and darkness, a magical portrait of the writer as a moral and imaginative participant in the political life of his nation.
Authors & Contributors
David Biespiel is a poet, critic, memoirist, and contributing to writer to American Poetry Review, New Republic, the New York Times, Poetry, Politico, The Rumpus, and Slate. He is poet-in-residence at Oregon State University, faculty member in the Rainier Writers Workshop, and president of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters. He has received NEA and Lannan fellowships and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award. His most recent book is The Education of a Young Poet. He has previously published three books in the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series: Wild Civility, The Book of Men and Women, and Charming Gardeners.
Arguably his finest work. . . Republic Café seems effortlessly ambitious in scope. Biespiel explores broad, overarching themes that few poets are willing to meet head on today. Though the story background is horrific, the poem is hopeful. . . . It reminds us that love is key to our survival and that forgiveness is a requirement, not an option. Republic Café is the graceful and moving work of a poet at the top of his game. It should be part of your permanent library.- Plume
David Biespiel’s sixth and latest book of poems, Republic Café, should be within your reach as soon as you can make it happen. The book shouldn’t be placed in between others on your bookshelf or in your 'books to read' pile. Republic Café should be where you can reach it so it can open its door for you, seat you immediately, and begin giving you what you didn’t know you could order or hunger for.- The Rumpus
Eloquent and personal, beautiful and wrenching, these poems mine deeply the nature of love, violence, and memory, drawing you into a world of evil and pain but also touch, healing, and love...Not to be missed.- Library Journal
Biespiel's voice truly soars. . . .Throughout the course of the collection, [he] weaves a narrative, of lovers whose lives are full of foliage and feeling before being ripped apart by history.- Willamette Week
Republic Café calls the liminal space we straddle in times of crisis home, out of necessity as well as courage.- Colorado Review
I was unprepared for the true enormity of the scope of this remarkable, deeply moving, and consistently compelling new book. With Biespiel's usual elegance and formal grace, Republic Café strikes me as being both expansive and deeply forgiving of human acts, however horrible.- David St. John, author of The Last Troubadour: New and Selected Poems
Biespiel’s finest book of poems to date. Republic Café builds on his strengths as a lyric poet with a social conscience, a latter-day Romantic in a skeptical time. Republic Café is both personal and political, much in the manner of its evident forebear, Walt Whitman. This is a postmodernist’s Romanticism.- David Baker, author of Swift: New and Selected Poems
David Biespiel reinvents poetry in Republic Café by mating a love poem with a historical narrative. A moment in time, a self within it—together the size of a pinprick—are revealed here to be as infinite as the universe. Nothing escapes the net this poet casts out with his powerful form and original vision. Transcendent, mysterious, and as supernatural as it is completely human, this is poetry that transforms the reader.- Laura Kasischke, author of Where Now: New and Selected Poems