One of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2000, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
Finalist for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award
A Selection of the Poetry Book Club of the Academy of American Poets
"It is a rare event when one comes across a poetry book that makes one laugh. Such
was the surprise with Hotel Imperium by Rachel Loden. With wit and mastery
of her subject matter, a preoccupation with Richard Nixon, and a social awareness
honed and honored, this ironic look at our times is a fine, illuminating, and funny
"With bright humor and sharp intelligence, Rachel Loden brilliantly deconstructs
and reconstitutes cultural myths... creating a calculated ambivalence
that is both quirky and beguiling."
"Fierce humor has Hotel Imperium, as well as a heady run in which Nixon and
brassieres stud the trail; the whole century bends its tragedy beneath
Rachel Loden's clear intelligence. These are brilliant, moving poemspoems
to read for pure joy and chills over and over from here on out."
"Rachel Loden is not merely fashionable or current. She’s a
late-century muse of everything valuable in poetryvoice, shape, and
gesture. Add to that a wicked sense of humor and a disarmingly fresh
and penetrating eye for social and political concerns. But her poems
are not political in the simple sense of the word. Loden’s poetry
guarantees complexity as it charts new territory with assurance. Rarely
does a writer emerge with such authority. Hotel Imperium is the debut
of a startlingly original writer."
"Ablaze with moral passion, hushed in fairy-tale bliss, or chuckling up to
terror, Rachel Loden's tight poems of intricate subversion are gloriously
musical, alive to each scintilla of sound and measure."
"Steadily, with imaginative insight, humor, sarcasm, irony, Rachel Loden
looks at history, the great continuous and absolutely unstoppable weave
of memories that is, like it or not, the medium of human existence.
Definitely ‘residential’, her Hotel Imperium is "a murderous dream,
confetti falling / helplessly into the fissured past" ("Premillennial
Tristesse"). In its corridors and rooms, Loden makes us confront many
of the century’s still active ghosts, in manifestations both familiar
and wittily defamiliarized: "The old man’s overcoat stirs / in the dark,
as though / about to cup a hand once more / to an unhearing ear..."
("Reagan Ascending into Hollywood"). Political in the best and rarest
sense of the word, Loden’s poems show us how to reimagine our (and
others’) lives, with a vividness reminiscent of both the Commedia and
Spring & All. In sum: great, terrifying, insidiously beautiful work!"
Read eight poems from Hotel Imperium in Jacket
Or an entry from The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry on Rachel Loden's work
Check out her interview with Lance Phillips at Here Comes Everybody
Or Kent Johnson's interview with Loden in Jacket
Link to Tom Clark's May 14, 2000 review of Hotel Imperium in The San Francisco Chronicle
or the original (elegant) version of that review in Jacket
Go to Melanie Rehak's review in Salon
Or Joel Brouwer's review in
The Boston Review
Read Kathleen Crown's review from American Letters & Commentary
Connect to Joseph Safdie's review in
Check out Colin Morton's review of Hotel Imperium
Hotel Imperium is a selection of the Poetry Book Club of the Academy of
American Poets, listed as an "exciting debut" for its "sophistication,
playfulness, and penetrating wit."
Poems from the book were featured four times as "poem of the day" at Poetry Daily.
Publishers Weekly says:
"Pop and politics haven't had their hats handed to them in this Popian a manner in ages. Reminiscent of the acute fantasias of Susan Wheeler and Elaine Equi, though temperamentally closer to Connie Deanovich, Loden's poems talk about what people are (or have been) talking about, but with barbs hilariously sharpened. Targets include most of the recent Republican presidents (mercifully, she exempts Ford), beauty culture, Woody Allen, Alan Greenspan, Dan Rather, and insurance companies: 'For an eye, not an eye./ For a tooth, forget it,' she writes in 'Memo from the Benefits Department.' Poetry consumers will find special interest in language/system queries like 'DCEASE', a surprisingly moving meditation that begins, 'There are two Elvis Presleys in the Social Security Death Master File (DCEASE). The King's social security number is 409-52-2002.' And language enthusiasts will approve of 'Last W&T', a rearrangement, refrigerator-poetry-magnet style, of the words of Richard Nixon's will. The danger that cynicism will overtake the indignation that propels Loden is averted by the joy, bafflement and innocence of her poems that take icons as incidental examples, not front-and-center subjects. Take 'The Little Richard Story': 'On a day like this,/ without the music/ of appearances, creatures/ could land and you/ would not be able to explain/ anything to them, not/ the fearless industry/ of beavers, or why dust bunnies/ prefer the dark, not even/ how Little Richard/ himself came into being.'...Loden's first full collection marches smartly down the path of satire."
An excerpt from Fred Muratori's review in Rain Taxi Review of Books:
"Decades have passed since the Warlock of Watergate resigned, but Richard Nixon remains very much with us, zestfully haunting the American psyche as only a vengeful cultural icon can... Loden's Nixon is neither monster nor hero, but a savvy reference, a blurry emblem of old principles and animosities that wander aimlessly in a limbo of suspended judgments, waiting for time's summation. Here Nixon 'walks the beach/of heaven in his wing tips, plotting/whatever nobodaddy knows.' Like the New York School poets, Loden seeks the poetry embedded in the creases of American culture and turns them inside out for us.... In the wealth of its allusions, the range of its awareness, and its resistance to the linguistic complacencies of mainstream commercial, political, and verse cultures, Hotel Imperium itself is 'both ruthless and luxuriant.' What it borrows from old newspaper clippings or Woody Allen one-liners, it gives back in rippling waves of multiple-entendres that emphasize the neural connectednessthe near sensibilityof language processed through a shared if fragmented and disorienting cultural iconography... Rachel Loden's poetry is rife with difficult, subversive pleasures. It is also very funny, and refreshingly alert."An excerpt from Melanie Rehak's review in Salon:
"Welcome to the 21st century, courtesy of Rachel Loden, whose first book of poems, Hotel Imperium, is filled with ghostly-and ghastly-mementos from the past century.... Inspired by everything from Lenin's corpse to the fate of Ronald Reagan's overcoat, Loden makes the fragmentation and senselessness that are the 20th century's legacy dance with a kind of macabre glee... Even the King can't dodge her bullet... No one, however, is a more insistent presence here than Richard Nixon, who turns up in Hotel Imperium as relentlessly and with as much audacity as he did in life. What is this obsession all about? Perhaps the answer lies in 'Bride of Tricky D.,' where Loden seems to be mourning the loss of the only man dastardly enough to guide her through the next millennium...."
Rachel Loden's poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Boulevard, Chelsea, New American Writing, the Paris Review, and many other journals. She is the author of The Last Campaign, a prize-winning chapbook, and her work is included in The Best American Poetry 1995. She lives in Palo Alto, California.Buy this book: