Dead Ahead

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This is a dazzling third book from a seriously funny poet. In his third book, Ben Doller troubles the blast zone where evolution and manifest destiny collide. Working from primary sources including Captain William Dampier's pirate narratives and the Widow Ching legend (as immortalized by Borges), Dead Ahead develops a semi-psychological narrative along the lines of description, variation, embodiment, and pastiche/'piracy'. While Dampier is (in)famous for both his practical and linguistic piracy - stealing words into the English language such as 'barbecue' and 'avocado' - the Widow Ching famously commandeered the pirate fleet of her husband yet ultimately relinquished her power in response to nature's signs and portents. Doller sets about bringing these sources together in a 21st-century collagist text, a critique of language, naturalness, and empowerment. With meditations on common, colonizing objects - such as the porch, the column, and the city - the poems in Dead Ahead look straight on at the pleasures of stealing, the perils of travel, and the ends of the earth.