Wrestling Li Po for the Remote
In this fresh poetry collection, Kevin Stein tussles with the current American moment's skewed notions of social and aesthetic value. His gallery of subjects is bracingly contemporary, including Gold Star Mothers who've lost a child to war, nightshift factory workers, estranged veterans, guitarist Les Paul, one couple's yard sale romance, a dog's Valentine poem, and even riffs on toilet paper, Herodotus, congressional discord, and league bowlers. To each, Stein brings both empathy and an astute eye for cultural foibles. He maps his poetic province from this welter, grappling with Li Po's quest for lyrical detachment as well as the counter urge for communal engagement. These poems - formally inventive and refreshingly accessible, at turns darkly humorous and trippingly caustic - pull no punches. They pose fundamental questions of self and art in the modern era.
"Kevin Stein's Wrestling Li Po for the Remote is playful and serious, a tour de force that covers expansive, intimate landscapes. Robust in scope and breadth, this collection doesn't exchange any glancing blows; everything's up front and grounded in a personal lyricism. Even the titles of the poems compound the tension within this collection - its mercurial wit and quickness, politics and aesthetics. Stein splays popular history before us in Wrestling Li Po for the Remote, and nothing seems to escape this poet's flawless ear and keen eye."
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular and The Chameleon Couch
"Intense, provocative, ever-so-timely - yet timeless - Kevin Stein's Wrestling Li Po for the Remote melds dazzling specificity with philosophical expansiveness. The level of creativity, thoughtfulness, and craft in this brilliant, multifaceted book is astonishing and impossible to forget."
—Susan Hahn, author of The Scarlet Ibis and The Note She Left.