Ugly Duckling Presse

Candor Is the Brightest Shield
Candor Is the Brightest Shield

A Maxwell

Poetry | $17 $14
Fall 2014
Buy"Like a lab, a portable tabernacle, and a meeting hall for sailors and stagehands…"

For the past couple decades, A Maxwell has published small artisanal pamphlets and chapbooks collecting poems, epigrams, lists and loose taxonomies – roughly every other year – on his homemade PRB imprint. These have circulated among close friends and other writers in vanishingly small numbers. Candor is the brightest shield collects several of these into a single volume, emphasizing mutually rehearsed themes of quotation, material memory, paternity, animal grief, and the commons.

Excerpt ˇ



1. The man of feeling amongst familiars
2. Hunger and randomization
3. Down-in-the-mouth lyric and promissory assertions hustling out the bric-a-brac of minor threats and the ecstatic fragment
4. The ecstatic fragment
5. A mature poetry, or flotation device
6. Thin branches of blue mossing just below the surface
7. Class fantasies, earth born agonies: tough, dry and lacking flavor
8. Poetry as the cult of urgency
9. Engram sepals, or glad produce of a “dirty intelligence”
10. Modern love, on paper
11. The hand of attribution passing over the page––
12. The fullest thing we’ll ever know,
13. The asterisk

Close ˆ

About the Author

A Maxwell

Andrew Maxwell is the author of Peeping Mot (Apogee, 2013) and many chapbooks and pamphlets on his artisanal PRB imprint. He directs the Poetic Research Bureau in Los Angeles, with Joe Mosconi and Ara Shirinyan, and founded the occasional poetry journal The Germ with Macgregor Card in the mid-90s. His poems, epigrams, essays and translations have appeared in various magazines such as Triple Canopy, New American Writing, Fence, The Hat and jubilat. For more than a decade, he has worked variously as a taxonomist, lexicographer, linguist and manager of classification systems at Google.

Advance Praise

Stored with boyhood maps and oaths, distressed nomenclatures, and handmade cosmologies, A Maxwell's poetry welcomes the reader into a space that feels at once like a lab, a portable tabernacle, and a meeting hall for sailors and stagehands. Prosaic in its sincerity and dandyish in its startling range of diction, Maxwell's anatomies, odes, and epigrams refresh the uncompromising awkwardness of Thomas Hardy's honest verse, gently and continuously testing for an unlikely isotope of diffidence, wonder, and sociability. Refractory elements of a new tractatus, these curious and redolent books belong in every poet's library.—Daniel Tiffany
Candor is the Brightest Shield’s structure includes “keys” that precede each section-booklet. Against keywords, which proscribe how to read what follows, what concepts are deserving of thought, these “keys” are qualitative and slip away. They fondle the dream of boundedness in the service of rethinking, of no-thought, and this is helpful: “trying to identify, it means / Trying to be mistaken / About something else,” because “The threat of knowing nothing is not the same / as uncertainty, which is the presence of alternatives.” So “Self is an odd couple.” So “Life is the italic, . . .” So “What does it mean to say? : irreducibly human.” So, from here to there, you can do this. With language. So “. . . the cost of the war is provisional but the theory of the war is invariable.” So in The GLAD FACT, the “Peer-to-peer is the art of bleeding through” without blood and we do this, undreaming boundedness. Let's keep this one close.—Diane Ward
I see a mouth in a mirror, an anonymous mouth, or a mouth growing anonymous, de-familiar to itself. I see articulation; the mind, by the way of the ear, to the syllable. There is so much pleasure in, as a reader, re-making the propositions of this work, in playing inside them, in saying, re-saying them. In these pages there is a gentle rigor, an affection and sorrow and attention to speaking and living that is most particular. The asterisk this work makes, on closer examination, turns out to be a real planet, a city, a place. It is certainly alive.—Anthony McCann