Brendan Constantine’s first book, Letters To Guns was released to rave reviews in February of 2009 from Red Hen Press.
Known for his dreamy abstraction and the emotional ferocity of his work both on the page and on the stage, Constantine has helped to shape the poetry scenes of Southern California. He is an ardent supporter of Southern California’s poetry communities and one of its most recognized poets. Mr. Constantine has served these communities as a teacher of poetry in local schools and colleges for the last sixteen years. In addition to this, he offers classes in hospitals, elder care centers and shelters for the homeless. Letters To Guns follows the publication of six chapbooks by local small presses in both Los Angeles County and Orange County, several of which are still available from the author. He is currently poet in residence at The Windward School.
Praise for Letters To Guns
“Tell me what you know,” and Brendan Constantine will offer you something you don’t know, in his astonishing debut book, Letters To Guns. Not since James Tate have we seen a poet so inventive or voracious in topic, in spirit and in imagination. Embracing a wide range of diction, Constantine’s poetry bears live witness to what Magritte once called the “symbolic decline of society” within a world seen as a “defiance of common sense.” Here, like Kafka’s aesthetic shock and like the humor found in art’s Dada movement, this book reminds us we are both spectator and accomplice. With unforeseen affinities between character and object, reality and dream, history and the present tense, Constantine’s personified ‘letters,’ awaken surprise with exciting tightrope transition. Letters To Guns accomplishes beauty and despair where stars hold “each other at gunpoint,” where the paradoxical is nothing less than irresistible.”
– Elena Karina Byrne
“In the hands of Brendan Constantine poetry is a weapon. That much is obvious. But one never knows, his poems will explode with bullets or flowers because Constantine is both guerilla fighter and beguiling jester. Melancholy, hysterical, literary, musical– the insights, like the forms (epistles, odes, annotated poems), of Letters to Guns are unpredictable, innovative and above all gripping. I am as helpless as anyone looking down the barrel of a gun. These poems are dangerous fun!
– Terrance Hayes
“With the epistolary speed of a good kiss, Brendan Constantine mixes the importunate worlds of violence and passion with great immediacy. As Van Gogh suggested, he “exaggerates the essential,” and thus builds a surreal world that keeps reminding us where we have just arrived: the over-ripened America we happily devour in his poems.”
– Mark Irwin