Broken World

Poetry by Joseph Lease

April 1, 2007 • 6 x 9 • 70 pages • 978-1-56689-198-1

With musical grace critics have likened to that of Robert Creeley, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Carlos Williams, Joseph Lease mixes a storyteller’s rhythm with lyric beauty to create a collection filled with humor, political bite, and psychological intensity. In a country where “money has won everywhere,” but the essential promise of democracy still beckons, these poems uncover our troubled psyches and show us what it might mean to be “Free Again.”

About the Author

Joseph Lease is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry: Testify, Broken World, Human Rights, and The Room. His poems have also been featured on NPR and published in Bay Poetics, The AGNI 30th Anniversary Poetry Anthology, VQR, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Lease’s poem “‘Broken World’ (For James Assatly)” appeared in The Best American Poetry, edited by Robert Creeley and David Lehman. 


“Few poets these days are publishing verse this musically alive.” The Boston Phoenix

“As a document of suffering and redemptive love, Broken World belongs in a long line of modernist texts, Zukofsky’s ‘A,’ Crane’s White Buildings, Reznikoff’s Testimony. The long sequence ‘Free Again’ has already made itself an essential event, thrillingly anthemic. The release of Broken World is one of the signal events in recent poetic history.” —Kevin Killian

“Exuberant, deft, gorgeously alive, and immensely complicated, these poems recognize our human freedoms and failures in fresh and important ways. Our new Whitman, Joseph Lease is interested both in our human rights and the question of what it is to be American, and he is searingly accurate about all that word now means. Broken World is intensely smart, exquisitely vulnerable, and completely original.” —Laura Mullen

“The poems in Joseph Lease’s Broken World are as cool as they are passionate, as soft-spoken as they are indignant, and as fiercely Romantic as they are formally contained. Whether writing an elegy for a friend who died of AIDS or playing complex variations on Rilke’s Duino Elegies (‘If I cried out, / Who among the angelic orders would / Slap my face, who would steal my / Lunch money’), Lease has complete command of his poetic materials. His poems are spellbinding in their terse and ironic authority: Yes, the reader feels when s/he has finished, this is how it was—and how it is. An exquisite collection!” —Marjorie Perloff

“Our poems, like ourselves, have become obsessed with security—and it is a backward obsession, a rage to keep the meanings out, to guard against the miraculous mishap of reading. How wonderful, then, to find myself in Lease’s Broken World. Here, the doors have swung wide open; the white space welcomes wildness and hap. And best of all, the cadences, which are the rapt cadences of real awe, show that silence is not fearsome but a Friend. These poems are a new way of life.” —Donald Revell