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Information Desk by Robyn Schiff
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Information Desk

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Information Desk by Robyn Schiff
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Aug 15, 2023 | ISBN 9780593683361 | 115 Minutes

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  • Aug 15, 2023 | ISBN 9780143136804

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Praise

Praise for Information Desk:

“A searing yet reverent book-length poem, containing as many jokes as it does social critiques, odes to forgeries and furious passages about goatish colleagues.” —The New York Times

“An encyclopedic poem that captures the immense experience of working, and being, at the Met . . . Information Desk is wide-ranging . . . an effluvial rush of memory, desire, data, and metaphor . . . wryly funny . . . What is consistent across Schiff’s books is an interest in the historical vignette and the artifact, their involvement in a web of social and economic relations, all of this expressed through a vocabulary and syntax that match these artifacts in elaboration and craftsmanship. It’s bracing to encounter a mind so voracious, so unapologetic in its intelligence and finical grammar.” —New York Review of Books

“Not many books, let alone book-length poems, are as can’t-put-it-down propulsive as Robyn Schiff’s fourth book, Information Desk . . . Readers of all kinds will be overwhelmed by this book’s wonders . . . You’re just going to have to visit Schiff’s museum yourself. You’re going to have such a good time.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Among the year’s highlights . . . groundbreaking, epic . . . Like visitors exiting the Met’s galleries, readers will emerge from Information Desk bedazzled by the transformative horizons of art.” —Washington Post

“There is quiet humor, alongside a whiff of defiance, in Information Desk’s subtitle: ‘An Epic.’ An epic poem, of course, calls to mind the Greeks, the Romans, all those illustrious examples—The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, etc. The journey portrayed in Information Desk may initially appear to be more inward, but it’s no less transformative . . . Schiff turns the oft-forgotten worker behind the counter into an opportunity to ask deeper questions about the historical relationship between creativity and economics . . . Who says that the life of the woman behind the counter is not equally adventurous as an epic hero’s?” —Poetry Foundation

“Robyn Schiff’s work has long demonstrated that American poetry can be both ornamental and discursive, both formally inventive and intimate. But the intimacy, in her latest, is woven more explicitly—and even more movingly—into the history and science that have long been the stuff of her métier . . . these are classic Schiff poems: taking from the natural world figures that, in her skilled hands, become devastating metaphors.” —McSweeney’s

“Schiff’s epic poem enacts its title, answering questions readers never knew they had . . . Violence and beauty, the banal and the sublime, all coexist in the same, generative space of a poem itself.” —Hyperallergic

“A study of memory as much as of art . . . Schiff orchestrates an engaging drama of consciousness that lures the reader down each page, capturing the mind’s quicksilver leaps from past to present and back again as it pings in Proustian fashion from sensory trigger to anecdote to meditation on history, science, and a panorama of other subjects treated with a mix of vulnerability and wit.” —Poets & Writers

“Schiff’s attention to class and cultural formation […] is part of a welcome return of class-based discourses to the world of American poetry . . . ranging in intellect, gorgeously slow in its development of thought and feeling . . . [Information Desk] is so faithful to itself, so admirably assured in how it presents us its information.” —Preposition Magazine

“[A] breathtaking sweep through personal and public history . . . Schiff has composed a fascinating poetic study of the ways that art relates to its audience.” —Publishers Weekly

“Ecstatic, propulsive, and novelistic, Robyn Schiff’s Information Desk is a tour-de-force epic on the intricate structures of knowledge, aesthetics, and labor. Astonishingly sibylline with her syllabic constraints, Schiff is one of our most formally brilliant poets writing in American letters today.” —Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings

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