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ISBN: 978-1-62557-982-9
Categories Poetry

The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert

Publication Date: December 2017


Catalyst for Ordination #1

it has been said
that in a vacuum-
which is to say,
a space without breath or                    [without a little]
wind in it-
feathers and rocks
will fall, like humans,
at exactly the same rate.

and those who saw
it happen, they said                               [a little]
he fell like a spider-
something about the limbs,

they said, and they said                        [a little]

the word, “carom”-
as if it applied to a human-

and manifest in that word
was the exact historic mixture
of hard sounds
battering soft-

and how beautiful,
his vestment fluttered-                       [a little]

and what if-

if he survived?
would we-


Travis Cebula’s The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert is a fascinating text that asks the reader to consider how action, and the shadows of action, leave imprints in space. In doing so, Cebula presents a mixture of more traditional narrative, along with splintered, splintering fragments of language that together form a nuanced version of story that questions what it means to be whole, and how we construct, and receive, narrative (and wholeness). There is real sadness in these pages, and even wishful thinking, along with the sublimation promised by the title. There’s also penance and forgiveness, and a promise of slightly altered outcomes, if only. As we read Cebula’s work, we are “furled by invitation” “to the strange we that forms inside.”

-Jenny Drai

Cebula’s lines tend to sparkle via mirage like sequence. He animates the atomized personality via The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert. In this book he attempts to rise above the magnetic shadow of the city as locus of material debris, always attempting to sublimate its poisonous morality of tedium and its attendant psychic carnage.

-Will Alexander

What sort of poet takes up-as subject, as symbol, as a way into and through to something else, something larger-a man, an actual historical figure, whose only notable accomplishment in life seems to have been killing himself? Travis Cebula is that poet. His subject, Frederick Eckert, died 85 years ago, the only person ever to have leapt from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert is an examination, and an investigation, of obsession and delusion as a sort of mystical seeking, as vision or as vision quest. Cebula’s Eckert almost certainly comes closer to ecstatic transformation than the original. But then, what’s so compelling about this book is that we are made to believe that this imaginative account may well be spot on.

-Robert Wrigley

About the Author

Travis Cebula

Travis Cebula lives in Colorado with his wife and trusty dogs, where he writes, edits, photographs and teaches creative writing. He is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, including Dangerous Things to Please a Girl, a sequence of Parisian poetry, and After the Fox, a collaboration with Sarah Suzor, available now from Black Lawrence Press. He is also a member of the writing faculty at Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, France, a Pavel Srut Fellow, a finalist, an honorable mention, several rejections and generally tries to be a nice guy—which offers him a few excuses. On most days, you can find him somewhere between the margins. On some days, you can’t.

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