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paper • 228 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-58-1

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Repetition

Rebecca Reilly

Repetition is a poetic memoir of a daughter’s grief after her father’s death, as told to a loved one. These meditative prose poems journey through Paris, New York, and Berlin on bike rides “to watch the tower sparkle in the distance” and on walks “past the zoo in the dark, the animals calling.” Paul Celan and Gertrude Stein accompany the daughter through her grief until the speaker can finally say, “it’s enough—you can go now.”

 

An excerpt from “Repetition [Le Monde Irréel]” from Repetition:

If I kept moving I could stay above it. If I kept running
it could not pull me down into it. And so began the night
rides through Paris. I bought an old Dutch bike that I
loved more than anything I have ever owned [I love it
still], and began to ride through the streets at night
to make myself tired so I could sleep. I would ride for
miles—first to the Eiffel Tower and back along the quais
of the Seine. I would time the ride so as to arrive at the
Pont Neuf on the hour to watch the tower sparkle in
the distance [every hour on the hour], then continue
along the dark Seine to the tower itself, to stand below 
it as it rained light lik sparks [étincelles]. I felt so lucky
to be there with the light raining down on me. A tour
bus driver smoking by his bus said, Pas mal, huh and we
smiled at each other.

 

 

 


  • "Rebecca Reilly's admirably stark account of grief is as laconic as Anne Carson at her rigorous best. Reilly writes about brokenness in phrases that feel divinely secure. Her voice has a durable core, rooted in wry wisdom and in musical honesty. Through poetic simplicity and philosophical profundity, Repetition weaves a mesmeric spell, its deathless words arranged with uncommon beauty." -- Wayne Koestenbaum
  • "I've been waiting a long time for Rebecca Reilly's Repetition; now that it's here, it will never leave my side. Its crystalline, harrowing, personal reckoning arrives inseparable from a spacious, symphonic, stunningly smart, spiritually expansive enmeshment with landscape, language, city, stranger, and sky. Reilly writes with a calm, solemn beauty made all the more precious due to its fellowship with ugliness, rage, and despair. Repetition is more than a book--it is a fearless inquiry, a dirge, a rebirth, and above all, a friend of the highest order." -- Maggie Nelson
  • "A father's death exposes and unravels the broken threads of a family, and the grief that is an exile--dead words substituted for living, and each iterative loss represented in a new tongue and impossibly aping the first--manifests in the piercing lament that is Rebecca Reilly's Repetition. The second iteration in Kierkegaard's construct--here, life in the new language and the talismans / texts of dead exiles--weaves the net to catch the bodies, falling. This is an uncontainable, beautiful book." -- Susan Wheeler
  • "...Reilly produces a deeply affecting beauty, an aesthetic wrench that works the intellect as much as the heart. In discussing language learning and her elected displacement to foreign cities, she notes that 'landscape is not colored in object by object, but driven by verb, in motion, through the city which invents itself, unfolding before you as you arrive—and so you built a new interior landscape—a whole city without memory.' And in contemplating the marking of time via the sky, she states, 'It is birds who apportion the sky, dividing and distributing it among us.' Reilly maintains a control over language that is characteristic of the best poets and an insistence on insight that is familiar from great nonfiction, resulting in a text sworn to its own striking beauty." - Publishers Weekly, April 2015 Read the full review.