“We receive, but how do we speak?” writes Brian Mornar in Three American Letters. Part poetics, part physical manifesto and essay, Mornar takes on the lyric in the gleaming line between urban and outskirts, between speech and movement, in American poetry: “…always on a string between the farm and the city finds reassurance in this ‘between’ as a place … Here we find our bodies again as if for the first time.” Mornar spins quotations into questions and eloquence in four intertwined sections that move through the fallen utopia of Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, the letters of Lorine Niedecker, Ashbery’s distant rural patterns “thrust into the urban present,” as well as Benjamin’s Arcades. Moving with a fractured luminance, Mornar asks what it means to be handed down language–to read through one’s place and predecessors and to move back through such passages–through “the traceable topography of the edge of the throat’s arches.”

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