Paul Lieber

Chemical Tendencies
Paul Lieber

“Paul Lieber’s poems travel the urgent streets of Manhattan with a charged immediacy even as they look back with tenderness along the city's avenues of memory. These are poems of compelling intensity and clarity. Paul Lieber’s poems about his son Sam form a magnificent and glorious sequence of poems in and of themselves, just as his elegiac cycle about the death of his sister brings the reader through the raw passages of grief. From first to last, this is a superb, deeply human, and heart-breaking collection of poems.”
—David St. John

“Paul Lieber’s poems are streetwise yet deeply sensitive. Eminently readable, delivered with cut-to-the-chase frankness and humor born of suffering, Chemical Tendencies’ telling anecdotes combine elements of autobiography, novel and poem. Life on New York’s lower east side (where “the noodle pudding still bounces”), fatherhood, aging, the “off Broadway” acting life, family, and mortality are grappled with in this collection by a protagonist whose winning voice never shies away from self implication and always comes straight from the heart.”
—Amy Gerstler

“Paul Lieber’s hot, hip, exhilarating poems whirl like small tornadic stories or conversations with people from the poet’s life—his son, father, friends—all torqued up with the tough love of gentle tough-talk, as well as lucid observation. Reading these poems I often felt I was watching short films in black and white, full of quick cuts—immediate, intense—where a “Bulky gray 49 Ford / with running boards” might deliver a father in “a brimmed hat,/ saying groovy and hep / with the thick sound / of an outsider.” More than once I thought of John Cassavetes. Witty, colloquial, taci turn, and deeply human, I found the poems in Chemical Tendencies endlessly entertaining, and constantly surprising, even slightly shocking. In the end this is one of the best collections of love poems I’ve sat down with in a long time, poems that carry us toward acceptance and grace like a sock to the jaw.”
—David Dodd Lee

“With the precision of a well-shot cue ball angling across a table, setting into motion a sequence of equally precise reactions, these devoutly un-flowery, yet intricately crafted revelations evoke intimacies completely un-idealized, un-romanticized—and therefore trustworthy. Paul Lieber employs an urban imagery based in what could be called a behind-the-scenes realism, given not to harshness, but rather to a kind of mercy. It is as though, the poet is saying, this world is flawed and therefore beautiful. These plainspoken poems work like unfolding equations of compassion, sometimes funny, or aching with pain or desire or both at once: like math, they move inexorably toward their moments of implied epiphany, where the poet knows enough to let them go, and let them resonate.”
—Sarah Maclay

Chemical Tendencies
ISBN: 9781939670655
buy from Small Press Distribution