“The most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok’s compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there’s almost no problem that can’t be solved by this poet’s gentle humor.”
New York Times Book Review

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Insomnia Diary

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“The most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok’s compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there’s almost no problem that can’t be solved by this poet’s gentle humor.”
New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
#8230; ultimately the most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok's compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there's almost no problem that can't be solved by this poet's gentle humor. — David Kirby
Publishers Weekly
"It's late and I've stayed up to miss you," Hicok writes, in his customary plain speech. "A man on TV's playing lute with dirty fingernails." In his fourth collection, Hicok writes with a newfound maturity and an appealing lack of obsession with self, examining the joys and pains (mostly pains) of ordinary others. As in earlier books, he chronicles a blue-collar life, a life in which "no matter what happens you have to punch in." The collection commences with a poem about a mentally ill roommate ("At least once you should live with someone/ more medicated than yourself"), and is also populated by a father, an uncle, a wife, a guy holding up a gas station and a little girl obsessed by the size of her hips. Two of the most moving poems concern a laid-off worker, told from the perspective of the boss: "When I told him/ I saw he was looking for a place/ in his brain to hide." Whimsical, even surreal, self-deprecation is one of the recurring gestures of the book; Hicok details the familiar encroachments of age on his hairline and rear end and accuses himself of being a voyeur as the urge for actually doing things ebbs. Although desire is not absent from these poems, the love that Hicok writes about is nearer agape than eros, present despite its frequently class-based trappings: "[W]ho's to say/ love isn't a power suit, Power/ book, coffee/ for breakfast." People drink a lot in these poems; they smoke dope, they smoke cigarettes, they try to escape themselves-and Hicok does not indict them, or himself, for it. "I'm a better poet than man," Hicok writes, but one suspects it really isn't true. (Mar. 28) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822990925
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2004
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,366,684
  • File size: 220 KB

Meet the Author

Bob Hicok teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, and his poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, Paris Review, and the New Yorker. He is the author of The Legend of Light, which won the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, and Animal Soul, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

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Table of Contents

Bottom of the ocean 1
Small purchase 3
The semantics of flowers on Memorial Day 5
Dropping the euphemism 7
Calling him back from layoff 10
My life with a gardener 12
Meeting Bill 13
An old story 15
The documentary art 16
Becoming bird 16
Another awkward stage of convalescence 20
The bald truth 22
After working sixty hours again for what reason 23
Oath to my former life 25
Spirit ditty of no fax-line dial tone 27
Insomnia diary 29
Go Greyhound 32
Finally opening the anthology to Kunitz 35
Free-floating anxiety sounds like a pretty balloon 36
Tuesday's walk 38
1935 40
American Studies 42
Sur Coast diary 44
Capital crime 46
Now and then I am direct 51
Growing at the speed of fashion 53
Bars poetica 56
Translator's note 57
Echo 60
Mortal shower 62
Meteor shower 65
Building a painting a home 66
Commission by attrition 68
Goodbye in the shape of a knot 71
The edge 73
Radical neck 74
It's not so much the heat as the stupidity 77
Cure for the common cold 78
Cutting edge 80
Truth about love 81
Shopping at the ocean 83
Acknowledgments 85
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