Future-haunted and disaster-veering, Late Empire inhabits the complexities of the present moment—absurd, intimate, and brutal. Staked at the troubled intersection of our public and private lives, these poems expose a dailiness shaped by political inanity and a language shaped by long war. Wonderfully tender, syntactically dazzling, and defiantly funny in the face of terror, Lisa Olstein’s signature prismatic lens is put to profound use in her fourth collection. Late Empire speaks just in time, signaling that hope and fear are closer than we know, that they face in the same direction.
Forthcoming from Copper Canyon in fall 2017.
– Suzanne Buffam
"Olstein's long sentences come into being in the most mesmerizing ways; like watching some new molecular architecture being teased from the well of a centrifuge; sometimes, foundation to cupola but as often cupola to foundation, and equally inhabitable."
– Michael Snediker
“[These poems] speak not only to the coming apocalypses, but also to our rapidly degrading methods of publicly addressing them—one dog-whistle after another, each less content-bearing, each more purely a form of address, than the one before it.”
– Shane McRae
"For Olstein, it is language that accumulates, and transfigures, the materials of history, its 'despair' and its 'fire.' Indeed, she renders us suddenly and startlingly aware of the presence of history, its myriad upheavals and inequities, in our smallest linguistic choices... Olstein prompts us to consider the ways in which we search the archive when the language of the present moment falls short, particularly when attempting to convey sublime experience, the 'singing' of the senses upon witnessing a transcendent moment. Yet Olstein also upholds the necessity of transforming the archive, and in doing so, transfiguring our definitions of beauty and possibility."
– Kristina Marie Darling