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Essays on Fathers and Fatherhood
Selected from the country's leading literary journals and publications—Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Creative Nonfiction, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, The Missouri Review, The Normal School, and others—Man in the Moon brings together essays in which sons, daughters, and fathers explore the elusive nature of this intimate relationship and find unique ways to frame and understand it: through astronomy, arachnology, storytelling, map-reading, television, puzzles, DNA, and so on. In the collection's title essay, Bill Capossere considers the inextricable link between his love of astronomy and memories of his father: "The man in the moon is no stranger to me,” he writes. "I have seen his face before, and it is my father's, and his father's, and my own.” Other essays include Dinty Moore's "Son of Mr. Green Jeans: A Meditation on Missing Fathers,” in which Moore lays out an alphabetic investigation of fathers from popular culture—Ward Cleaver, Jim Anderson, Ozzie Nelson—while ruminating on his own absent father and hesitation to become a father himself. In "Plot Variations,” Robin Black attempts to understand, through the lens of teaching fiction to creative writing students, her inability to attend her father's funeral. Deborah Thompson tries to reconcile her pride in her father's pioneering research in plastics and her concerns about their toxic environmental consequences in "When the Future Was Plastic.” At turns painfully familiar, comic, and heartbreaking, the essays in this collection also deliver moments of searing beauty and hard-earned wisdom.
Marvelously sustained and densely rhythmic, this tightly constructed whole is built of parts that, at each level, all the way down to the phrase, constitute poems in themselves. Baus manages to keep a cast of words in constant replay until many of them take on the presence of character, and some emerge as characters themselves—Minus and Iris, for instance—keeping the whole on the verge of a narrative project that remains always just barely out of reach, just barely in another world in which language and animal endlessly interleave. Baus has opened a new literary field: the linguistic bestiary, a new zoo where words pace like fauves behind ever-thinning bars.” —Cole Swensen, contest judge and author of Greensward, Ours, and The Glass Age
The poems in Derek Henderson’s Songs are “translations” of a film cycle of the same name, shot by American filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1933–2003) to document his and his family’s life in Colorado in the mid-1960s. Where Brakhage’s films provide a subjective visual record of his experience bewildered by the eye, these poems let language bewilder the space a reader enters through the ear. Henderson tenders the visual experience of Brakhage’s films—films of the domestic and the wild, the private and political, the local and global—into language that insists on the ultimate incapacity of language—or of image—to fully document the comfort and the violence of intimacy. Songs expresses the ecstasy we so often experience in the company of family, but it just as urgently attests to ecstasy’s turbulent threat to family’s stability. Like Brakhage’s films, Henderson’s poems carry across into language and find family in every moment, even the broken ones, all of them abounding in hope.
Heather Winterer explores the intimate territory between desolation and consolation, offering a poetry that translates the distances between spiritual endings and beginnings, between an “after what it used to be” and “an arrival.” The work enacts the model of St. Ignatius Loyola, encouraging the collapse of lines between creation and creativity, time and space, the Christian and Christ, the self and the other. The voice of these poems moves exuberantly through various forms, resisting predication and celebrating its own multiplicity. With lyrical dexterity and humor, Winterer invites us into her world, a world of tangible absences and presences—where the Mojave Desert and the city of Las Vegas become the unlikely sites of spiritual encounter. The god of this quirky world appears in cars, apartment buildings, and swimming pools and speaks to us through desert plants and birds. Everything from the outside—natural and unnatural—spills into the poems and they turn whatever they are given into movement away from darkness and loss, toward possibility, potency and grace.
“Kevin Goodan’s poems embody a quiet, incandescent fierceness, fueled by loss, but still able to seek and find a place to dwell, despite the upper level disturbances he encounters in the disappearance of rivers, the uncertainty of—and fissures in—language, the elusiveness of a god, and the diminishment of rural America. These poems are raw and hyper-honest in their regard of a world in which ‘every moment is a landscape / We enter, depart, at the same time.’ ” —Christopher Arigo, author of Lit Interim and In the Archives; “In Kevin Goodan’s Upper Level Disturbances, we are given the ‘whispered home to the lightning’ where ‘the levees sing of snake-grass burning.’ With a steady hand, Goodan unfurls the line into the rough and jagged physicality of the world until the sublime transcends its earthly frame. These are hard-earned poems, brought back to us from a difficult land. They are ‘prayers . . . adorned with rivets of fire’ within which the ‘laws of nature / Determine all the grief one eye can hold.’ Upper Level Disturbances is one helluva good book, and I recommend it highly. ” —Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet, and Phantom Noise
““Kryah’s lines are full of figurative grace: The images stun and accumulate. We Are Starved introduces an important poetic vision, a surprising and exciting voice.” —Laura Kasischke, author of Space, in Chains and The Raising
“In haunted days more filled with violence than grace, Joshua Kryah has found the sacred, a way to be amazed at how ‘you can move among the world’s misfortune/and still consider it good.’ We Are Starved’s breathtakingly mature poems are fueled by a man’s internal combustion, the tremendous labor it is to live well—to be a father, a lover, a son—in a fallible world. There’s a gorgeous, seeking darkness swelling the heart of We Are Starved, one that marks Kryah as among contemporary poetry’s finest young voices.” —Alex Lemon, author of Happy: A Memoir and Fancy Beasts
“Joshua Kryah is redefining what it means to write spiritual poetry. This is not another book about longings for the spiritual; this is a book of offerings to the spiritual. These poems answer the plea of Yeats’s spirits (‘We are starved’) and give them what they crave, depicting the particulars of human appetite and the way each ‘peculiar and appalling hunger’ unfolds. The scope of these poems is dizzying; they echo and glitter and sear as they, against all odds, give us a ‘world [that] is/suddener than any idea about the world.’ We Are Starved is unabashed and unflinching, and it is deeply, exquisitely satisfying.” —Mary Szybist, author of Granted