A 2003 New Issues Poetry Prize Selection,
Brenda Hillman, Judge
“The ocean opens ‘as though it were a bees’ hive full of wrens,’ and table salt ‘lopes like ink from a copper well.’ With a sublime palette that ranges from zen simplicity to elegant diction, Bradley Paul reveals the internal life of things. How refreshing to behold the beauty of The Obvious. For, as Wilde reminds us, ‘the real mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.'”
“In Bradley Paul’s poems, the reader hears someone odd, unlikely, and, to a large extent, unknowable, speaking in reasoned tones about unreasonable things. The dramas are neither picturesque stories nor familiar tales about self revelation. They don’t work within the by-now familiar patterns of poetry. In locating the speaker in words, rather than placing him (or her) in stories, Paul compels the reader to contemplate whether words lead one to knowing someone else or to recognizing further mysteries. Perhaps, as Paul’s poems suggest, it (and we) are always somewhere in between; and perhaps language’s purpose isn’t to tell but to entrance, delight, and undermine.”
—John Yau, Boston Review
“In one place Bradley Paul writes, ‘Their language sounds like scissors. / Their scissors sound like a wren / or something common, / treading at the far side of the pool / where the gallies oar up for a fight,’ characteristically giving us a unique metaphor and then, just as we have assimilated it, qualifying it, again and again. Through a poetic journey of such associative leaps—fine tunings of our perceptions, really—a journey from Maryland to Senegal to Slovenia and Germany, and through characters as diverse as Lucretius, Poulet, a beachcomer, centaurs, and a baseball player, to name just a few, Paul reinvents the reality of our world as metaphor, as Wallace Stevens described it. For Paul, the world is a palimpsest, with layer upon layer of rich association. As unique and startling as the perceptions and poems are, Paul has a way, like one of the ancient seers, of letting us feel that these visions are our own, or, as he says, ‘The color of your voice / moves in me.’ This is an incredible first book that immediately catapults Bradley Paul to a position of one of our more important voices.”
Bradley Paul is a poet and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with his wife, the writer and painter Karrie Paul. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Boston Review,Iowa Review, and Fence. Paul also wrote and directed the independent feature film The Monstrous V9, and his screenplays have received several awards. He has spoken at numerous conferences, including the International P.E.N. Conference in Slovenia, the Meacham Writers’ Conference and the Conference of the Baltimore Writers’ Alliance.