Stan Rice is the author of five collections of poetry, including Fear Itself and Singing Yet. For many years he was associated with San Francisco State University, where he was Professor of English and Creative Writing, Assistant Director of the Poetry Center, and Chairman of the Creative Writing Department. He has been the recipient of the Edgar Allen Poe Award of the Academy of American Poets, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, and a writing fellowship for the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, the novelist Anne Rice.
"Yes, it is surreal," insists Rice, describing the passage of time on the opening page of The Radiance of Pigs, his sixth book of poetry. By turns compelling, grotesque, and poignant, Rice's work chronicles the tripartite structure of his life (Childhood, Hades, and Resurrection) in nightmarishly unforgettable imagery: "blood-splashed" butter or snowmen made of "crystal vomit." Rice perceives a world of terrifying beauty where sex becomes a "black pig in a peach" and spring arrives when "silver lipstick is/ On the Japanese plum." In this refigured world, Latin is spoken in pickup trucks, a venue where Rice finds himself "meeting Satan in the parking lot." The key characters in this poetical autobiography are the poet's famous wife, Anne, and his dead father (the subject of bizarre and oddly moving elegies, "Don't Put Him in the Freezer" and "Dad Is Dead"). Readers will readÄand rereadÄthese poems because of their strange beauty and uncompromising honesty: "The experience isn't the vision./ Writing about it is the vision." Highly recommended for all poetry collections.ÄDaniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"The dialectic between spirit embodied, perhaps entrapped, in matter, and matter burning and glowing with spirit has occupied the center of Rice's writing since Some Lamb . . . His work reveals the magnitude of revelation and the depth of wisdom available to a single human consciousness engaged in transforming its life through making art." --Andy Brumer, Poetry Flash "Rice's poems are a mixture of primitive and sophisticated, dark and light, Fauce-like outward energy and inward looking, self-referential themes . . . The radiance of life itself is what shines through in these often dissonant, anxious, yet bravely life-affirming poems."--Susan Larson, Times-Picayune (New Orleans) "This brash poet's style reaches for the sky just when we least expect it, taking us briskly to new heights of feeling and expectation. This is what art issupposed to do."--Peter Thorpe, Rocky Mountain News
Divided into a triptych, this sixth collection opens with the poet looking back on Childhood, moves on to a private Hades and finally re-emerges through a hard-won Resurrection. For Rice, all affections are fixed by the age of 12long experience teaches us only how to love at the end what you loved/ At the beginning. He playfully rejects Yeatss desire to be hammered gold and longs to be mercury instead (When I Grow Up). Such modest claims make for gem-like lyrics at their best, and reflexive self-examination at their worst. A heros journey, the book has gloriously wry moments, as in Early Spring, which comes After flesh falters, after/ The eyes we knew look at us/ As a stranger./ Its early spring again./ Natures voluptuous skeleton/ Sits up! Many of the poems seem tonally akin to childrens verse, as in Mother Butterfly: Stay busy, Mother, you/ White butterfly,/ Whose only friend,/ The brown butterfly, is dead. Or as in A Black Cat: Cats dont shake dry / Like a dog. Not this/ Cat, this day. Froze,/ And hissed, /What I have missed I have missed. The title of this collection itself suggests a marriage of innocence and experience, an ambition fulfilled in a poem like His Life Story, which concludes with the metamorphosis of a Prince who Fell from his armchair/ Like dogfood,/ Kuh-shlop./ Relieved of his rodeo buckle./ Lowered into the honeysuckle. These poems are the kind of lowering from which one looks up with a grin. (May)