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Cover of Eminent Domain by Justin Petropoulos
March 2011
Marsh Hawk Press

College or Unit:

Eminent Domain

Justin Petropoulos

Winner of the 2010 Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize selected by Anne Waldman, who said: "The brilliant serial prose poems of 'Eminent Domain' frame a troubled, scintillating world between animate/inanimate realities, bleak and transcendent at the same time. The title references the power of the state to seize a citizen's property, yet this book reclaims and prioritizes human imagination and vision. These are works in the lineage of Rimbaud, keen, sharp, witty, unsentimental yet curiously visceral and emotionally powerful. Justin Petropoulos mirrors back at us a reflection of the diamond-faceted juxtaposed particulars in the face of our Anthropocene Age. Animals abound, caught in civilization's web: moths, cranes, spiders, sparrows, the isosceles comings and goings of ducks, a butterfly or is it a butterfly chair morphing into blue? Snakes disappear 'lassoed off by wind,' a 'chorus of crickets' is 'chirping at Polaris' and lozenges nest in the 'mud-throats of loons.' Petropoulos's steady eye on the larger cosmos also holds: 'She sees an infinite rack of stray planets in a garlic clove....' It's quite a ride. The crystalline surreal phrases keep humming and surprising in this postmodern apocalyptic world. A 'bulldozer's exhaustoria,' a 'mannequin's fennel suit,' refugee camps, strontium 90, 'martial-like curfews,' turret guns, border zones, fluorescent dyes, Styrofoam skies resound 'as if history were a tea-stained sink.' This is a new 'Waste Land.' Welcome an original consciousness from the belly of the beast."


Justin Petropoulos is program manager for creative writing in the Department of English at ASU.

Praise for this book

"For the child of such heavyweight parents Wittgenstein, George Oppen, the Ashbery of Three Poems, 'Eminent Domain' is a remarkably self-effacing offspring, a book that for all its difficulty remains witty, lyrical and engaging. Justin Petropoulos puts language through its paces but his object is to bewitch rather than befuddle, to enlighten rather than to confound; when he says 'Close your eyes and I'll let you in,' he really means it. Rigorous, smart and seductive, this is a terrific first book."

Campbell McGrath

"This precision-cut sequence by Justin Petropoulos is driven by converging poetic desires: communicability of experience, accountability to rule, and appetites in excess of instrumental reason. 'Eminent Domain' is original storytelling: equal parts treatise, screen memory and orgy of inconvertible note issues. Its prose pictures body united to its failed autopsy, voice joined to legal tender, metropolis and home as mutual ceremonies of knowledge. The energy of this prose poetry is invigorating."

Roberto Tejada