The title references the power of the state to seize a citizen’s property, yet this book reclaims and prioritizes human imagination and vision. These are works in the lineage of Rimbaud, keen, sharp, witty, un-sentimental yet curiously visceral and emotionally powerful. Justin Petropoulos mirrors back at us a reflection of the diamond-faceted juxtaposed particulars in the face of our Anthropocene Age. Animals abound, caught in civilization’s web: moths, cranes, spiders, sparrows, the isosceles comings and goings of ducks, a butterfly or is it a butterfly chair morphing into blue? Snakes disappear “lassoed off by wind”, a “chorus of crickets” are “chirping at Polaris” and lozenges nest in the” mud-throats of loons”. Petropoulos’s steady eye on the larger cosmos also holds: “She sees an infinite rack of stray planets in a garlic clove…” It’s quite a ride. The crystalline surreal phrases keep humming and surprising in this post-modern apocalyptic world. A “bulldozer’s exhaustoria”, a “mannequin’s fennel suit”, refugee camps, strontium 90, “martial-like curfews”, turret guns, border zones, fluorescent dyes, styrofoam skies resound “as if history were a tea-stained sink”. This is a new Wasteland. Welcome an original consciousness from the belly of the beast.—Anne Waldman
For the child of such heavyweight parents—Wittgenstein, George Oppen, the Ashbery of Three Poems—Eminent Domain is a remarkably self-effacing offspring, a book that for all its difficulty remains witty, lyrical and engaging. Justin Petropoulos puts language through its paces but his object is to bewitch rather than befuddle, to enlighten rather than to confound; when he says “Close your eyes and I’ll let you in,” he really means it. Rigorous, smart and seductive, this is a terrific first book.—Campbell McGrath
This precision-cut sequence by Justin Petropoulos is driven by converging poetic desires: communicability of experience, accountability to rule, and appetites in excess of instrumental reason. Eminent Domain is original storytelling: equal parts treatise, screen memory, and “orgy of inconvertible note issues.” Its prose pictures body united to its “failed autopsy,” voice joined to legal tender, metropolis and home as mutual ceremonies of knowledge. The energy of this prose poetry is invigorating.—Roberto Tejada
Justin Petropoulos’ poems have appeared in A cappella Zoo, American Letters & Commentary, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Gulf Coast, Mandorla and Portland Review. He received his MFA from Indiana University.He lives in Brooklyn, New York where he and co-curates Triptych Readings (www.triptychreading.com) with poets Mary Austin Speaker and Anne Lovering Rounds.
ISBN-10: 0-9841177-9-2 (pbk.)