Flies

Flies

4.5 2
by Michael Dickman
     
 

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"Hilarity transfiguring all that dread, manic overflow of powerful feeling, zero at the bone—Flies renders its desolation with singular invention and focus and figuration: the making of these poems makes them exhilarating."—James Laughlin Award citation

"Reading Michael [Dickman] is like stepping out of an overheated apartment building to be

Overview

"Hilarity transfiguring all that dread, manic overflow of powerful feeling, zero at the bone—Flies renders its desolation with singular invention and focus and figuration: the making of these poems makes them exhilarating."—James Laughlin Award citation

"Reading Michael [Dickman] is like stepping out of an overheated apartment building to be met, unexpectedly, by an exhilaratingly chill gust of wind."—The New Yorker

"These are lithe, seemingly effortless poems, poems whose strange affective power remains even after several readings."—The Believer

Winner of the James Laughlin Award for the best second book by an American poet, Flies presents an uncompromising vision of joy and devastating loss through a strict economy of language and an exuberant surrealism. Michael Dickman's poems bring us back to the wonder and violence of childhood, and the desire to connect with a power greater than ourselves.

What you want to remember of the earth and what you end up remembering are often two different things

Michael Dickman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. His first book of poems, The End of the West, appeared in 2009 and became the best-selling debut in the history of Copper Canyon Press. His poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, and he teaches poetry at Princeton University.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Few poetry debuts found more attention than Dickman's The End of the West: the difficult working-class childhood he shared with his twin brother, Matthew (also a poet), and the twins' memorable early acting careers prompted a long profile in the New Yorker. Fortunately, the verse itself did measure up: the nightmarish intensities of his terse and fractured lines, their zigzags between religious transcendence and confessional shame, won Dickman a great deal of admiration. This second collection may not surprise, but it won't disappoint. Scarily clipped or deliberately awkward to reflect the extremes he feels, Dickman looks into the depths of his psyche, remembering his dead older brother, other dead relatives, and the omnipresent fact of death: "At the end of one of the billion light years of loneliness// I stuff my mom and dad into a little red wagon and drag them out into the ocean// Waves the color of their eyelids." The poems at their best might frighten their author, and their reader too: "You're going to die anyway and not just because it's natural but because they want you to," Dickman exclaims: no wonder he says, elsewhere, "I want to burn down the forest/ that's been growing/ all night/ in my brain." (May)
Library Journal
This is Dickman's second collection (after The End of the West). He's a young writer but already famous owing partly to his unusual life story: his identical twin brother is also a poet, he lost an older brother to suicide, and he was raised by a struggling mother but helped by a privileged stepfamily. Here, Dickman's prosody mimics the body of a restless boy, alternately speeding up and slamming on the brakes, drifting, then crashing into the unavoidable: "I sit down to dinner/ with my dead brother/ again." Single words make a line, or a runaway sentence can't stop for three. Some poems continue past where it seems they should end; others snag on a shimmery statement: "that watery light people get sometimes/ when they're first arriving/ and when/ they're/ leaving for good." In "Dead Brother Superhero," the younger brother channels his dead older brother, who wears a "super-outfit … made from handfuls of oil and garbage blood and pinned together by stars" (and has come to save him but simply closes his eyes). VERDICT These are devastatingly sad poems that hold pieces of Northwest sky, ocean, and pine, as well as suffering and salvage; in the words of this poet, "it serves us right to be alive." All poetry readers should consider.—Ellen Kaufman, Baruch Coll., New York
Jeff Gordinier
One of Dickman's poems is called "Imaginary Playground," and that phrase could be used to describe the book itself, which returns again and again to blue, unshakable reveries that explore the strangeness of how childhood actually feels to a child…Many of them…derive their force and intimacy from a loss in the poet's own life—the overdose death of his older brother, Darin Hull—but they're so deftly calibrated that they manage never to be maudlin. This is only Dickman's second book, but…he already seems a major American talent.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556593772
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
05/01/2011
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
687,655
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Dickman: Michael Dickman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. His debut volume of poetry, The End of the West, appeared in 2009. He has received fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Vermont Studio Center. His poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, and he teaches poetry at Princeton University.

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Flies 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She padded in, sitting down with Opalpaw. "Opalpaw, you will have your ceramony now. Opalpaw, do you promise to uphold the med cat code for the rest of your life?" Leopardstrike meowed. Once Opalpaw said I do, she spoke again. "Then I call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon this apprentice. She has trained hard to learn the ways of the medicine cats. I hope you recieve her now. She knows the herbs of our territory, and what the herbs are for. Opalpaw, from this day forward, until the day StarClan takes you, you will be known as Opalsong!" Leopardstrike meowed as she touched noses with her former apprentice. She looked at Opalsong happily. She chuckled. "I remember when you where just a wailing little kit." She meowed.