OVERRIDE

The Hotel Oneira

Poems

August Kleinzahler

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A thrilling new collection from one of the most original poets of his generation

“His work is a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy with a jazzy backbeat.” That praise appeared in the pages of The New York Times in 2005, but it applies no less to August Kleinzahler’s newest collection.
     Kleinzahler’s poetry is, as ever, concerned with permeability: Voices, places, the real and the dreamed, the present and the past, all mingle together in verses that always ring true. Whether the poem is three lines long or spans several pages; whether the voice embodied is that of “an adult male of late middle age, // about to weep among the avocados and citrus fruits / in a vast, overlit room next to a bosomy Cuban grandma” as in “Whitney Houston,” or that of the title character in “Hootie Bill Do Polonius,” who is bidding “adios compadre // To a most galuptious scene Kid”—Kleinzahler finds the throbbing human heart at the core of experience.
     This is a poet searching for—and finding—a cadence to suit life as it’s lived today. Kleinzahler’s verses are, as noted in the judges’ citation for the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize (which he won for his collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep), “ferociously on the move, between locations, between forms, between registers.” The Hotel Oneira finds Kleinzahler at his shape-shifting, acrobatic best, unearthing the “moments of grace” buried under the detritus of our hectic, modern lives.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Hotel Oneira

Praise for Hotel Oneira

“Kleinzahler's music is not like anyone else's. His ear seems at times to have been shipped in from one of the moons of Saturn, and he hears possibilities in our daily language to which the rest of us remain incorrigibly deaf.” —Troy Jollimore, The Washington Post

“Kleinzahler's work, dreamlike yet savvy, is among the most delightful flowerings of American poetry in our times.” —David Wheately, The Guardian (London)

“[August Kleinzahler] might be the best poet in America, I don't know—I can't trust my judgment after I finish one of his too infrequent collections, high on its cartoon-jazz fumes. It's been five years since the astonishment of Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2008 (and should have won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer), and, well, he's back . . . If you’re unfamiliar with his work . . . start somewhere, for God’s sake—you’re missing out on one hell of a racket.” —Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune

“Kleinzahler’s poetry, like his name, is verbally lush, veritably cornucopian and always promising more . . . If there’s a unifying characteristic to this ‘teeming,’ verbally high-octane poetry, it’s its ability to lean toward sentimentality without indulging in it. Memory, in August Kleinzahler’s poetry, becomes a resource for reveling in words and proper nouns that might otherwise seem lost - for revivifying the dead both within and without the poet. And the poetry itself delivers bouquet after bouquet of lovely phrases, ‘profusion(s) of violets, turtles, snakes and cranes,’ so that even if readers can't quite remember the lost world Kleinzahler is recovering, they can enjoy his skill, which is considerable.” —Aaron Belz, San Francisco Chronicle

"Where the acoustics of his poems are concerned, Kleinzahler is the model of scrupulousness . . . Here in abundance is Frost’s "sound of sense," musically understood, as a poetic lingua franca . . . Things often look bleak in Kleinzahler’s poems; but no inhibition need attach to pointing out how well these witty and enjoyable poems manage to turn out." —Aingeal Clare, Times Literary Supplement (UK)


“Kleinzahler’s first since his new-and-selected Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (2008) finds the peripatetic, polymathic, and sometimes dyspeptic poet in terrific form . . . What stays, and what ought to impress any reader, are the range and the command that Kleinzahler has over so many flavors and kinds of American English.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kleinzahler’s poems amuse, challenge, and occasionally tease . . . his dark lyrics and mininarratives open doors to surreal, vividly rendered destinations that seem as real as any found in a travel agent’s brochure.”  —Fred Muratori, Library Journal



Praise for Sleeping It Off in Rapid City

“Rarely does high, learned poetic art sound this casual . . . But beneath their surface charms, the reverberating subjects of nearly all of Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems, particularly his later ones, are brute human longing and loneliness.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Many poets try to sound tough, or masculine, or self-conscious about manhood, and fail miserably: what qualities let Kleinzahler succeed? His eye, and his ear—he is, first and last, a craftsman, a maker of lines—but also his range of tones, and his self-restraint: he never says more than he should, rarely repeats himself and keeps his focus not on the man who speaks the poems (and whose personality comes across anyway) but on what that man sees and on what he can hear.”—Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review

“Despite its title, there is very little sleeping in this gathering of new and previously published works. What binds these erudite poems is their restlessness. Planes fly overhead (‘Red pulse the big jet’s lights / in descent’); the poet returns to his childhood home (‘No one is left here who knows me anymore’); even food spoiling in the refrigerator (‘Fetor of broken proteins’) is notable for its implied metamorphosis. Kleinzahler moves easily between casual rowdiness and scholarly composure, often with a sense of humor; a series of poems under the title ‘A History of Western Music’ mock their own authority. He also employs simplicity and clarity when needed, as in ‘Portrait of My Mother in January.’ The need for connection is another kind of movement, with the sense of a human being as a country to be travelled to: ‘Unvisited I do not live, I endure.’”The New Yorker

“In these sprawling, energetic poems, Kleinzahler takes for his subject the detritus of daily life in America—brand names, back highways, celebrities—and the derelict people who live it, which usually is the poet himself schlepping from town to town. Here he finds, with just a touch of comic irony, ‘The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.’”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Praise for Hotel Oneira

“Kleinzahler's music is not like anyone else's. His ear seems at times to have been shipped in from one of the moons of Saturn, and he hears possibilities in our daily language to which the rest of us remain incorrigibly deaf.” —Troy Jollimore, The Washington Post

“Kleinzahler's work, dreamlike yet savvy, is among the most delightful flowerings of American poetry in our times.” —David Wheately, The Guardian (London)

“[August Kleinzahler] might be the best poet in America, I don't know—I can't trust my judgment after I finish one of his too infrequent collections, high on its cartoon-jazz fumes. It's been five years since the astonishment of Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2008 (and should have won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer), and, well, he's back . . . If you’re unfamiliar with his work . . . start somewhere, for God’s sake—you’re missing out on one hell of a racket.” —Michael Robbins, Chicago Tribune

“Kleinzahler’s poetry, like his name, is verbally lush, veritably cornucopian and always promising more . . . If there’s a unifying characteristic to this ‘teeming,’ verbally high-octane poetry, it’s its ability to lean toward sentimentality without indulging in it. Memory, in August Kleinzahler’s poetry, becomes a resource for reveling in words and proper nouns that might otherwise seem lost - for revivifying the dead both within and without the poet. And the poetry itself delivers bouquet after bouquet of lovely phrases, ‘profusion(s) of violets, turtles, snakes and cranes,’ so that even if readers can't quite remember the lost world Kleinzahler is recovering, they can enjoy his skill, which is considerable.” —Aaron Belz, San Francisco Chronicle

"Where the acoustics of his poems are concerned, Kleinzahler is the model of scrupulousness . . . Here in abundance is Frost’s "sound of sense," musically understood, as a poetic lingua franca . . . Things often look bleak in Kleinzahler’s poems; but no inhibition need attach to pointing out how well these witty and enjoyable poems manage to turn out." —Aingeal Clare, Times Literary Supplement (UK)


“Kleinzahler’s first since his new-and-selected Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (2008) finds the peripatetic, polymathic, and sometimes dyspeptic poet in terrific form . . . What stays, and what ought to impress any reader, are the range and the command that Kleinzahler has over so many flavors and kinds of American English.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kleinzahler’s poems amuse, challenge, and occasionally tease . . . his dark lyrics and mininarratives open doors to surreal, vividly rendered destinations that seem as real as any found in a travel agent’s brochure.”  —Fred Muratori, Library Journal



Praise for Sleeping It Off in Rapid City

“Rarely does high, learned poetic art sound this casual . . . But beneath their surface charms, the reverberating subjects of nearly all of Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems, particularly his later ones, are brute human longing and loneliness.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Many poets try to sound tough, or masculine, or self-conscious about manhood, and fail miserably: what qualities let Kleinzahler succeed? His eye, and his ear—he is, first and last, a craftsman, a maker of lines—but also his range of tones, and his self-restraint: he never says more than he should, rarely repeats himself and keeps his focus not on the man who speaks the poems (and whose personality comes across anyway) but on what that man sees and on what he can hear.”—Stephen Burt, The New York Times Book Review

“Despite its title, there is very little sleeping in this gathering of new and previously published works. What binds these erudite poems is their restlessness. Planes fly overhead (‘Red pulse the big jet’s lights / in descent’); the poet returns to his childhood home (‘No one is left here who knows me anymore’); even food spoiling in the refrigerator (‘Fetor of broken proteins’) is notable for its implied metamorphosis. Kleinzahler moves easily between casual rowdiness and scholarly composure, often with a sense of humor; a series of poems under the title ‘A History of Western Music’ mock their own authority. He also employs simplicity and clarity when needed, as in ‘Portrait of My Mother in January.’ The need for connection is another kind of movement, with the sense of a human being as a country to be travelled to: ‘Unvisited I do not live, I endure.’”The New Yorker

“In these sprawling, energetic poems, Kleinzahler takes for his subject the detritus of daily life in America—brand names, back highways, celebrities—and the derelict people who live it, which usually is the poet himself schlepping from town to town. Here he finds, with just a touch of comic irony, ‘The dead solid center of the universe / At the heart of the heart of America.’”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In the Press

Review: ‘The Hotel Oneira,’ poems by August Kleinzahler - The Washington Post
Poet August Kleinzahler hears possibilities in our daily speech to which the rest of us remain deaf.
- The Washington Post

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • August Kleinzahler

  • August Kleinzahler was born in Jersey City in 1949. He is the author of eleven books of poems and a memoir, Cutty, One Rock. His collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep was awarded the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize, and Sleeping It Off in Rapid City won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. That same year he received a Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Francisco.

  • August Kleinzahler Laura Wilson
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The Hotel Oneira

Poems

August Kleinzahler

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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