Labors in Vineyards of Desire is a grand, sweeping chronicle of our time, filled with particulars transcendent and mundane, questioned and understood in light of the poet’s astonishing erudition and ferocious appetite for life. Gibbons entertains nearly every version of each of our era’s events, refracting them through the intensely personal prism of his learning and his longing. I have learned things from this book and from this poet - about my own life - for which I am deeply grateful. I believe it is a masterpiece of autobiography. - Richard Hoffman, author of the memoirs Half the House and Love and Fury. Robert Gibbons' Labors is something like the story of an ethics of writing. The term may sound pretentious, a typical academic's line, and maybe unsuited to the directness and honesty of the author's style. But the term is apposite as we read a voice trying to analyze or weigh up the choices, sacrifices, struggles that get you to be a writer. The process described is tough, and that toughness features throughout, but it's a toughness fused with sensitivity to the fascinations and beauty of everyday life. - Ben Bollig, Oxford University, Modern Argentine Poetry: Displacement, Exile, Migration. I've finished reading Labors and I'm blown away by it. I think Gibbons has written a very important book, the likes of which we don't often encounter today; indeed, the likes of which is practically unknown in a tragically post-literate time such as ours. Though modernist, even postmodernist in conception, it is also an old fashioned book, a book about a writer’s formation, much as Pasternak's Safe Passage was. I can't think of such a book having been written in the US in recent years. By this I mean a book of such richness, a book whose author sets out to describe and enact how he became the person he is in great part through the process of reading and thinking about what was read, about the music he listened to, the visual art experienced. Not to say that he has not worked or traveled or had significant relationships. But the most important relationships seem to have been with books, the lives of their writers and their impact on his own life of the mind. -Peter Anastas, A Walker in the City: Elegy for Gloucester. In this remarkable memoir Robert Gibbons weds lucid prose about his past to the poetry of contemporary life. Gibbons recalls with insight, honesty, and humor the physical, spiritual, and intellectual journeys he undertook as he wrote his way across the late twentieth and on into the twenty-first century. Evoking the mythical twelve labors of Hercules, the sublime vintage wines Gibbons has cultivated so prodigiously for so many years in his vineyard of words will delight and inebriate readers. It's certainly a great book. - Charles Brock, Curator of American and British Paintings, National Gallery of Art, author of Charles Sheeler: Across Media. Gibbons is the new Henry Miller, with less overt sex but many times more sensual. -Tim Gillis, The Portland Phoenix
Paperback: 306 pages
Publishing date: January 16, 2020
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Robert Gibbons is the author of ten books of poetry, numerous chapbooks, and a unique study of the affinities in approaches to art in language by Charles Olson and that of Clyfford Still in paint: Olson/Still: Crossroad. He was poetry and fiction editor of the interdisciplinary journal Janus Head from 2004-2011. His book Jagged Timeline was translated into Danish by Bent Sørensen of Aalborg University, and work is forthcoming in the Journal of Italian Translation via Gianluca Rizzo of Colby College. In 2006 he was awarded a John Anson Kittredge Education Fund grant to travel and read his work at the Poetry and Politics Conference at the University of Stirling, Scotland. There, he met Ben Bollig, now at Oxford, who recorded the meeting online, writing that "he is the most passionate advocate of poetry I have met." National Book Award Finalist, William Heyen calls Gibbons "one of the great writers of our time." In 2013 the poet was invited to give the Creative Keynote Address, which he titled, Kerouac & the Ecstatic Act of Writing, at the 2nd annual European Beat Studies Conference held at Aalborg University. Along with his wife, Kathleen, he was a staff writer for The Quarterly Review of Wines, when in 1994 they were guests of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne at the Cannes Film Festival, where Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or. A resident of Portland, Maine for over a decade, during which time he published seven books, prompted former chairman of PEN New England, Richard Hoffman, to write, "Gibbons is in the process of sacralizing Portland, lodging it in the imagination of readers, as Williams did for Paterson, Cavafy for Alexandria, Joyce for Dublin."