Offering both subtle and immediate pleasures, Lee Ann Brown’s generous new book extends her unmistakable, original voice, every bit as Southern as it is avant-garde, gracious without being naive. Abounding in a playfulness of style, including songs and ballads, the poems in The Sleep That Changed Everything are by turns funny, serious, insightful and moving. Botanical and scientific language are used here as collage elements to chart cycles of desire and emotional transformation. Brown is committed to Whitman’s idea that we all have many selves; thus her work embraces the immediacy of the New York School, the personal and literary wildness of the Beats, the word play and political astuteness of Language poetry and an eroticism all her own. In poems that are both highly literate and plain-spoken, Brown makes the life of the soul directly available in all its renegade garb.
Acclaim for The Sleep That Changed Everything:
“…Sleep, collecting more than five years of work, is less somnolent than restorative and wonderfully wakeful… While poems like the evil-channeling “Ballad of Susan Smith” (“Black Man, Black Man, I accuse you”) show Brown reviving a turbulent genre to terrific effect, the sheer number of joyous allusions, invocations and dedications here—along with sections of “Estivation,” “Devastation” and “Vibratory Odes”—make this a book a primer of democratic loving, working to ‘Make a new life/ For those around us fully/ and for those/ To come// To come/ To.'”—Publisher’s Weekly
“The Sleep that Changed Everything collects work that fulfills the great expectations Brown’s pervious book suggested; in Sleep she continues to capably explore the threads presented in Polyverse, while confident enough to also defy those expectations…Several years ago, then poet-laureate Robert Hass called Brown “one of the wittiest and most inventive” of the younger generation of poets. Far from disappointing that prediction, The Sleep that Changed Everything reveals a poet who combines adroit ability with an expansive range.” —Ken Rumble