Rob Halpern
Rumored Place

ISBN 1-928650-20-1
113 pages




Rumored Place, Rob Halpern’s first book, combines a near confessional narrative of physical passion with the documentation of “social fact.” It inscribes a subjunctive locale situated in an impossible nowhere space and time. “The book,” he states, “is situated between subjective desire and objective need.” “I’ve tried to activate the untimely tension between a present in which it is impossible to live humanly, and a collective future that exceeds our ability to grasp.” The writing takes aim at an unrepresentable moment from whose standpoint alternate histories will have emerged-and life will be other than we can imagine it now.

Shame attends writing in such a place, but shame doesn’t mean hopelessness. Any reader making way through Rumored Place will feel intimations of transformation creeping all around the dark horizon. Here history is both fantasy and nightmare and this examination of it “a bad conscience that needs to become critique.”


With an extraordinary soulful ferocity, Rob Halpern’s new work commits itself to a lyric interrogation of power. The abjection of lyric is brought to bear as critique in a sensationalism of pure intelligence. Filling throats with so much rock. Sustained and yet overcome by their porousness, the poems struggle in the grasp of our violent polity—indeed, they register defeat, even as they bring into relation incommensurate scales of experience—erotic, economic, political. The result is a work for our moment: exhilarating, and edged with grief.
— Camille Roy

Rob Halpern implodes new narrative tenets, collapsing all views of our condition and the means to express these views into each sentence at once: learned, aroused, mournful, and full of hope. His book conveys the intolerable crush of the ongoing, the grand brawl of contending institutions and concepts hectically alive past their deaths. Meanwhile the self continually gains and loses ID. The intensity of what is said displays the extent of what can’t be said. This emptiness travels along with the story in the future perfect tense, a negative space that has not been, an arcadia that cannot have been lost, beyond knowing but not beyond needing. It is also an orifice in the mind or body where the unspeakable of history might enter and speak.
— Robert Glück

Rumored Place risks itself in its entirety at every turn, in a project of writing beyond our moment’s sad overproduction of historical ends. Central to this project is a range of new meanings for lyricism and embodied eros. The writing enacts Oppen’s “shipwreck of the singular,” aligned with a displaced echo that names the ongoing wreck of a resurgent empire. I have been waiting a long time for such a book, and have found it waiting for me in each of its beautifully demanding sentences and lines. Finally, a place from which one day to have begun!
— Taylor Brady