Breathing Arizona


A Journal

In this new book of poems, his 15th, Stephen Bett writes with a striking but characteristically subtle power and beauty about the edgy romance of new beginning. The poet's absorbing interest in a "minimalist" poetics has here met up with his longstanding admiration of the open, ranging "journal" poem as practised, at times, by such figures as Robert Creeley, Philip Whalen, Robert Grenier, Paul Blackburn, and bp nichol, and more recently by Michael Rothenberg in his wonderful book on Whalen. Thee minimalists, chiefly, continue to inspire: Rae Armantrout, and younger, envelope pushing poets such as Nick Demske and Craig Dworkin.

Breathing Arizona: A Journal is the story of a love affair, in poetry, by Stephen Bett.... Good love exists in the realm of magic, as if holding claim to something ethereal, something not quite of this world, that makes the angels sing... The story of a love affair in a broken stream of consciousness, yet pared in borrowing from the Beat tradition, the seeds sown by the counterculture generation of the 1960's... The blunted lines reflect the violence of the postmodern war economy, rewoven into... the idea of a safe harbour. Breathing Arizona is a sweet, open testimonial [that] presents the poet, his humour, and his grace.... A flight of magic in a shattered and violent world."

~ Rebecca Banks (Quebec blog)

Breathing Arizona: A Journal offers a great collection of tight, striking poems that capture Stephen Bett's attempt to breathe life into a relationship.... This is surely minimalist beauty, and from one of the leading poets nowadays. I admire what Bett does immensely: minimalist poetry is an act of immense self-discipline, one of the essential tools for a writer in any medium.

~ Richard Godwin

You can write. And whatever shakes loose, this interlude has enabled a part of your identity to fly. This, what you are engaged in, is bigger than you. It's a leap on the path of what Jung called individuation, and it's all yours.

~ Michael Kenyon

This is authentic minimalist poetry. The words are so modestly beautiful in their arrangement upon the white page while showing an emotional intelligence within the micro-text. Poetic minimalism is notoriously difficult to master. Yet [Bett's work] manipulates the sparse format so aptly that the outcome is a poignant expression of the tensions that exist [on the page].

~ REM magazine in New Zealand