At Lake Scugog

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Overview

This is an eagerly awaited collection of new poems from the author of Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was hailed by the New York Times as a "snappy, entertaining book." A triumphant follow-up to that acclaimed debut, At Lake Scugog demonstrates why the San Francisco Chronicle has called Troy Jollimore "a new and exciting voice in American poetry."

Jollimore is a professional philosopher, and in witty and profound ways his formally playful poems dramatize philosophical subjects--especially the individual's relation to the larger world, and the permeable, constantly shifting border between "inner" and "outer." For instance, the speaker of "The Solipsist," suspecting that the entire world "lives inside of your skull," wonders "why / God would make ear and eye / to face outward, not in." And Tom Thomson--a character who also appeared in Jollimore's first book--finds himself journeying like an astronaut through the far reaches of the space that fills his head, an experience that prompts him to ask that a doorbell be installed "on the inside," so that he can warn the world before "intruding on't."

______

From At Lake Scugog:

LOBSTERS

Troy Jollimore

tend to cluster in prime numbers, sub-

oceanic bundles of bug consciousness

submerged in waking slumber, plunged in pits

of murk-black water. They have coalesced

out of the pitch and grime and salt suspended

within that atmospheric gloom. Their skin

is colorless below. But when exposed

to air, they start to radiate bright green,

then, soon, a siren red that wails: I'm dead.

The meat inside, though, is as white as teeth,

or the hard-boiled egg that comes to mind

when one cracks that crisp shell and digs beneath.

Caress the toothy claw-edge of its pincer

and you will know the single, simple thought

that populates its mind. The lobster trap is elegance

itself: one moving part: the thing that's caught.

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Editorial Reviews

Sacramento News & Review
Troy Jollimore, a philosophy prof at Chico State, won a National Book Critics Circle prize with his first poetry collection; his second, At Lake Scugog, is easily that good. In lush language draped over familiar forms, Jollimore explores the nature of the self, but don't let that frighten you off. He's got a great sense of humor and an equal fondness for a pun and a laugh, as in Tom Thomson in "Tune": "no man's an iPod." Take that, John Donne!
— Kel Munger
ForeWord Reviews
Fans of Tom Thompson in Purgatory as well as new readers will delight in a fresh batch of Tom Thompson sonnets, as well as a trove of new work whose ingenious play with form and notions of selfhood is not to be missed. . . . It can't be overstated—he isn't overrated.
— Jennifer Sperry Steinorth
Philosophers' Magazine
[W]hat makes the book exceptional is the way it embodies a style of language and thought only a philosopher could deploy so effortlessly.
— John Koethe
Sacramento News & Review - Kel Munger
Troy Jollimore, a philosophy prof at Chico State, won a National Book Critics Circle prize with his first poetry collection; his second, At Lake Scugog, is easily that good. In lush language draped over familiar forms, Jollimore explores the nature of the self, but don't let that frighten you off. He's got a great sense of humor and an equal fondness for a pun and a laugh, as in Tom Thomson in "Tune": "no man's an iPod." Take that, John Donne!
ForeWord Reviews - Jennifer Sperry Steinorth
Fans of Tom Thompson in Purgatory as well as new readers will delight in a fresh batch of Tom Thompson sonnets, as well as a trove of new work whose ingenious play with form and notions of selfhood is not to be missed. . . . It can't be overstated—he isn't overrated.
Philosophers' Magazine - John Koethe
[W]hat makes the book exceptional is the way it embodies a style of language and thought only a philosopher could deploy so effortlessly.
From the Publisher

"This sophomore effort mostly continues in the first book's nervous, witty, self-conscious, and at time self-despising modes. . . . Pantoun, epigram, terza rima, puns, and invented forms with new rhyming requirements make much of the volume a pleasure in terms of technique. . . . Altogether different and hard to forget are poems on which Jollimore concludes: stern, vulnerable, lyrical reactions to environmental peril."--Publishers Weekly

"In this second outing by 2006's National Book Critics Circle Award winner (for Tom Thomson in Purgatory), the poet considers age-old but vexing philosophical dualities: appearance vs. reality, mind vs. body, belief vs. knowledge. Given his day job as a philosophy professor, these aren't surprising subjects; what surprises is the deftness with which he handles them, conjuring great American songbook lyricists ('Don't be misled:/ that sea-song you hear/ when the shell's at your ear?/ It's all in your head') more readily than Descartes or Heidegger. . . . Seriously playful ('no screw-up goes unscrew-/ tinized') or playfully serious ('no man's an iPod'), Jollimore adds buoyancy to weighty human dilemmas without trivializing or distancing them. An engaging collection."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Troy Jollimore, a philosophy prof at Chico State, won a National Book Critics Circle prize with his first poetry collection; his second, At Lake Scugog, is easily that good. In lush language draped over familiar forms, Jollimore explores the nature of the self, but don't let that frighten you off. He's got a great sense of humor and an equal fondness for a pun and a laugh, as in Tom Thomson in Tune": "no man's an iPod." Take that, John Donne!"--Kel Munger, Sacramento News & Review

"Fans of Tom Thompson in Purgatory as well as new readers will delight in a fresh batch of Tom Thompson sonnets, as well as a trove of new work whose ingenious play with form and notions of selfhood is not to be missed. . . . It can't be overstated--he isn't overrated."--Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, ForeWord Reviews

"[W]hat makes the book exceptional is the way it embodies a style of language and thought only a philosopher could deploy so effortlessly."--John Koethe, Philosophers' Magazine

Library Journal
In this second outing by 2006's National Book Critics Circle Award winner (for Tom Thomson in Purgatory), the poet considers age-old but vexing philosophical dualities: appearance vs. reality, mind vs. body, belief vs. knowledge. Given his day job as a philosophy professor, these aren't surprising subjects; what surprises is the deftness with which he handles them, conjuring great American songbook lyricists ("Don't be misled:/ that sea-song you hear/ when the shell's at your ear?/ It's all in your head") more readily than Descartes or Heidegger. Jollimore's supple formalism avoids the smirk and smarm found among other contemporary rhymesters, employing instead self-effacing conundrums ("I'd like to take back my not saying to you/ those things that, out of politeness, or caution, I kept to myself") and comic melancholy ("even when/ we kissed/ I would feel myself/ longing to kiss you") as tools in a difficult, personal quest for truth. VERDICT Seriously playful ("no screw-up goes unscrew-/ tinized") or playfully serious ("no man's an iPod"), Jollimore adds buoyancy to weighty human dilemmas without trivializing or distancing them. An engaging collection.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
Elizabeth Lund
The writing in At Lake Scugog is dense and complex, but the journey is well worth taking. Philosophical questions come alive, and the poems demonstrate the great irony that the mental space so many people inhabit is often a self-imposed prison.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Jollimore's debut, Tom Thompson in Purgatory (2006), surprised almost all observers when it won the NBCC Award. This sophomore effort mostly continues in the first book's nervous, witty, self-conscious, at times self-despising modes. New sonnets about the character Tom Thompson indulge in light comedy ("Who'd I blurb? Or who did I let// blurb me?"), but retain the moving undertones of fear: "His curse,// which he curses with all his heart, is to hate this curs-/ ing, hating heart of his." Pantoun, epigram, terza rima, puns, and invented forms with new rhyming requirements make much of the volume a pleasure in terms of technique. Always clever, at times Jollimore can be merely clever, his search for a topic the only topic that can keep him on track. It is a kind of writing perfected already by an earlier generation, by John Hollander and Daryl Hine. Altogether different and hard to forget are the poems on which Jollimore concludes: stern, vulnerable, lyrical reactions to environmental peril. The 10-page "His Master's Voice," addressed apparently to a child, looks at the future of civilization, at our culpable arrogance, and at how "songs" might help set us right. (May)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Troy Jollimore's first book of poetry, "Tom Thomson in Purgatory", won the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in the "New Yorker", "McSweeney's", and "The Believer", among other publications. He teaches philosophy at California State University, Chico.

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Table of Contents


I: BURN BAG 1
The Solipsist 3
At Lake Scugog 5
Regret 7
Stain 9
Lobsters 10
Nostalgia 11
In the Lobby of the Chancellor Hotel 14
Meme, I, Self, and Eye 16
Ars Poetica 19
On Location 20
Love Poem 21
The Errand 22
II: TOM THOMSON IN FLIGHT 23
III: IMPERCEPTIBLY 41
IV: THE STARS, THE HIGHWAYS 55
Want 57
Gate 58
Free Rider 59
Two Hearts 62
Advisory 65
Organ Music 66
Workshop Poems 71
Promise 73
To His Lover 74
The Hunter 75
Remembered Summer 77
His Masters Voice 78
Acknowledgments 88
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