My review-essay on Nathaniel Mackey entitled “Root Work” appeared in the Boston Review yesterday. This is from the very beginning:
Nathaniel Mackey’s Blue Fasa is the latest installment of an ever-expanding “life work” in the tradition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Ezra Pound’s Cantos, and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson. Mackey, a recent recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Bollingen Prizes, has been adding new sections to the long poems Song of the Andoumboulou and “Mu” for decades. These two strands first emerged in Eroding Witness (1985) and were explicitly intertwined in the National Book Award–winning Splay Anthem (2006). What Mackey now calls “a long song that’s one and more than one” is a tale of the tribe with a planetary scope, an expansive lyrico-epic worthy of the cultural demands of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Mackey’s long song speaks to a range of conditions of uprootedness across time and space, conveying the affect of such diasporic experiences through a powerful musicality…
Last April, Duke University released some very interesting short video interviews with Mackey: