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Breaking Down the Surface of the World:
Part I: Geography

Jack Grapes


Bombshelter Press, 1996 62pp

ISBN: 0-941017-48-6

Geography is the first of three sections of an extended poetic sequence. The haunting world of buried memory gives the poem epic dimension as the poet fuses cultural and historical forces with personal memory... Breaking Down... weaves a narrative form with the meditative lyric and the fragmented visions of the Surrealists.

The Author

Jack Grapes
is an award-winning poet, playwright, actor and teacher, recipient of numerous fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He's the author of 13 books of poetry, and also wrote and starred in Circle of Will, which ran for several years in Hollywood and won drama critic awards for Best Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor.


The voice in the poems is his voice, alone, unique, singular. I get the feeling they can be touched, tasted, torn into butterflies without dying.

San Francisco Poetry Review

His language is common speech, heightened and confined through poetic skill and insight. It is not only easy to read, it reaches out for you. He manages to be levelheaded in building his poems, wonderfully and purposefully vague in atmosphere while at the same time, making his points assuredly. It is difficult to explain and equally hard to delineate. It is the work's magic. The point, or at least the result is an updating of the Whitman ethic, the "Song of Myself" which speaks for and to all men. Finally, Jack Grapes makes sense, and how many poets consistently do? His work is generous, passionate, as full-bodied as a meal and yet delicate as a fog, but a fog which never falls between him and his writing, between his work and us. This unique usage of poetry, this humane artistic ideal, conscious or unconscious, of what poetry should be, is his own. Ours too, if we are wise enough to receive it.

Dennis Cooper, Bachy

Grapes absorbs the absurdities of his experience: he is intense and vulnerably honest and at his best he can give incidents from his past a touching poignancy, especially since fidelity is another of his merits. I've read poems of his in the past that were so true without being sentimental that they counted almost as personal experiences of my own. He is one of the finest poets writing today.

Rich Mangelsdorff, Kaleidoscope