Cover image for Swan electric
Swan electric
Bernard, April.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
88 pages ; 22 cm
See it does rise -- Tatters -- Masabeesec -- Ktaadn -- Sonnet in E -- The wise word, the good word -- English as a second language -- Hogback -- Dome -- Four winds -- NY sch -- Music through the ceiling -- Song of yes and no -- Was there no telephone? -- They were all crazy -- What would happen then -- Cold and dignified -- Dial-an-edict -- Fears -- Cosi fan tutte -- The next little dollar -- Fire power -- Summer out of town -- Coffee & dolls -- Opera interlude -- Hell -- Funny weather -- Failed marriages of the movie stars -- Wampeer -- That's what I said -- She runs with her skirts up -- Pierced -- Procedurals -- Sport -- Across from grace -- Fort-da -- Go between -- Not Rome -- Although many things make me nervous and sad -- As fish -- Eidetica -- Large crow -- Jimmy Stewart -- Dancing bear -- Dead brother -- The women who won't appear -- Blake and snake -- White tree -- Coda : swan electric.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3552.E7258 S93 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



April Bernard's idiosyncratic and profoundly emotional voice combines flights of fancy, moral sternness, and wit in broadly explorative poems--from a memoir sequence about the East Village in the 1980s, to "disheveled" sonnets of self-interrogation, to darkly comic hallucinations.

Author Notes

April Bernard is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Blackbird Bye Bye (which won the Walt Whitman Prize of the Academy of American Poets) and Psalms, and a novel, Pirate Jenny. Her poems and essays have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She lives in Vermont, where she teaches at Bennington College

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Throughout this heterogeneous second collection, Bernard's speaker works hard to read significance into personal encounters and recollections, ranging from vague, internal musings to memories of the East Village in the 1980s to imagined encounters with dead writers, celebrities and animals, among others. In the opening poems, Bernard's speakers circumnavigate a generally somber internal landscape, often using the natural world as a point of reference. Sea, sky, sun, wind, light and snow make frequent appearances, and seem to occasion some of the book's most vague and tortuous musings: "How often is too often, what if this heat tore through me constant as the sky I tear apart...." Quite often, the poems' speakers seem frustrated or even bored by their own interiority ("...oh it's just the same old dream of melting"). Similar problems haunt the East Village sequence, in which an evocative, though essentially familiar cast of characters the "squatter," the "lover of a famous poet" play out the routines and pretensions of countercultural life, but rarely offer the reader either a surprising insight or a startlingly good story. In the book's final two sections, Bernard seems to reach for an imaginative or fantastical escape from the biographical and its attendant ennui; the result is that speakers encounter Jimmy Stewart or the dancing bear from Captain Kangaroo. Occasionally though, the freewheeling imagination seems poised to succeed, with flashes of music and humor that could well suggest strategies for future work: "Seek error. Forgive soot. Let the lion find his own way about the house, and provide him a swinging door. Feed the lion." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

I. See It Does Risep. 15
Tattersp. 16
Masabeeseep. 17
Ktaadnp. 18
Sonnet in Ep. 19
The Wise Word, The Good Wordp. 20
English as a Second Languagep. 22
Hogbackp. 23
Domep. 24
Four Windsp. 25
NY Schp. 26
Music through the Ceilingp. 27
II. Song of Yes and No
1. Was There No Telephone?p. 31
2. They Were All Crazyp. 33
3. What Would Happen Thenp. 36
4. Cold and Dignifiedp. 37
5. Dial-an-Edictp. 38
6. Fearsp. 40
7. Cosi fan tuttep. 41
8. The Next Little Dollarp. 42
9. Fire Powerp. 44
10. Summer Out of Townp. 45
11. Coffee & Dollsp. 47
12. Opera Interludep. 49
13. Hellp. 51
14. Funny Weatherp. 52
III. Failed Marriages of the Movie Starsp. 57
Wampeerp. 58
That's What I Saidp. 59
She Runs with Her Skirts Upp. 61
Piercedp. 62
Proceduralsp. 63
Sportp. 64
Across from Gracep. 65
Fort-Dap. 66
Go Betweenp. 67
Not Romep. 68
Although Many Things Make Me Nervous and Sadp. 69
As Fishp. 71
IV. Eidetica
1. Large Crowp. 75
2. Jimmy Stewartp. 76
3. Dancing Bearp. 77
4. Dead Brotherp. 79
5. The Women Who Won't Appearp. 80
6. Blake and Snakep. 82
7. White Treep. 84
Coda: Swan Electricp. 85
Notesp. 87