In Addition to His Pugnacity and Charm, He Can Write Poetry

Timothy Williams in the New York Times Book Review:

Klein450On a gray and rainy day recently, the poet August Kleinzahler was eating a hot dog and greasy fries at a hot dog shop in Fort Lee, N.J., called Hiram’s, a gruff, no-frills place that Mr. Kleinzahler says is about as close to the literary establishment across the river in Manhattan as he cares to be.

But Mr. Kleinzahler, 55, noted both for poems that jarringly marry the high and the low and for keeping his distance from the New York illuminati, has found himself late in his career in a rather awkward spot: the cusp of respectability in the cliquish world of poetry.

While those who pay no attention to poetry have probably never heard of him, Mr. Kleinzahler has gradually become a poetry star. His work is a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy with a jazzy backbeat. His personality combines Allen Ginsberg’s goofball charm and Norman Mailer’s inveterate pugnacity.

More here, including four poems.