Black Lawrence Press

The Czar

9781625579485

The poems of The Czar by Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson stand at the intersection of ironic political commentary and hyperbolized body currency. In the world of this collection, the Czar is a figurehead replete with ceremony and artificial gestures. But is he provocative humor or allegorical heft? And what happens when power is passed to the powerless in a secret handshake that’s more tongue on tongue than tongue-in-cheek? This book-length collaboration pivots between comic interludes and satirical exposés, at its heart the rhythm of the present tense, history’s most unreliable narrator no matter the king or kingdom.

Praise

  • As a child, my mother taught me to zigzag Z to avoid getting eaten by an alligator. Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson employ this technique here: in the clever curve of C around the subject, in the sharp switchback tack of Z for zealous. They commit to wordplay revolution, erasing origins, replacing narrative with wit, sound, and imagery so surprising it feels, by poem’s end, perfectly natural: the thing that waited, haunting, in the swamp. I don’t know how else to explain The Czar, whose unexpected becomes so expectant with meaning. This is a brilliant collection/collaboration.

    --Carol Guess, author of Doll Studies: Forensics
  • This exquisite, feature-length project is the comic jam. But it's no joke. You can thank Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson later. For now, arm yourself with a few questions: What rules does this Czar follow? Which ones does he break? And just how many ways can you fold a Czar in the first place? Are you ready? The Czar demands your participation. Enter the parlor!

    --Matthew Guenette, author of American Busboy
  • This book is not a book, it’s treatise on empire, a manifest destiny, a pack of wild peasants outside the gate, a mesmerizing tour d’effluvia in its Czar not Czar, throne not throne, overthrown mistresses, Lady Czar is no Czarina, cappuccino foam isn’t foam, revolution was a hoax, naming and renaming, unlearned cursive, unheard flute solo, empire under construction, not New York, not Sacramento, non-tabloids, non-violent non-women. Biddinger and Robinson rebuild our world and take it away piece by piece to show the conviviality of our destruction.

    --Elizabeth J. Colen, author of What Weaponry

Mary Biddinger

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Jay Robinson

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