See Me Improving

See Me Improving

by Travis Nichols
     
 

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Travis Nichols is a young poet and novelist who invites readers into a world of relationships gone strange. In his poems, everyday human behaviors become fraught with extraordinary significance. It's a delicate balance of orchestration and improvisation—both dizzying and oddly comforting. The poems, thick with vibrant language and semantic play, hint at a

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Overview

Travis Nichols is a young poet and novelist who invites readers into a world of relationships gone strange. In his poems, everyday human behaviors become fraught with extraordinary significance. It's a delicate balance of orchestration and improvisation—both dizzying and oddly comforting. The poems, thick with vibrant language and semantic play, hint at a Rimbaudian derangement of the senses while being hyper-alert and completely alive.

All my life I've felt destined not for the greatness of my heroes but the goodness of their followers.
I knew, even when I found a piece of tooth in my Sausage McMuffin,
I would surmount the poverty and dullness of my youth.
I knew neither my poverty nor my youth would be significant enough to attract attention,
only simple enough to graft onto the great biographies.
Even when I felt uncommon and angry enough to steal balloons from the drug store and spit red paintballs through a peashooter at people making out in the park I knew I was no Billy the Kid . . .

Travis Nichols is an editor at the Poetry Foundation. He is the author of Iowa, a collection of poems, and Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Coffee House Press), a novel. He edits the online magazine Weird Deer and regularly contributes to The Believer, Paste, and The Stranger. He lives in Chicago.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This hip and funny second collection of poems from Nichols (Iowa) looks, with a tender heart, mostly at domestic life, occasionally lifting its gaze toward the larger contemporary American scene. Nichols's speaker is, foremost, humbled by circumstances big and small: "All my life I've felt destined/ not for the greatness of my heroes/ but the goodness of their followers." He looks with a kind of gentle admiration on most things, from the local Bruegger's Bagels to the beloved, to whom tribute is paid in the title sequence: "I will buy orange roses for you,/ and you will buy an orange book for me,/ and this evening we will leave them both/ in the cold house with the furry cat,/ so we can have a code orange night." Slight in-jokes like this are sprinkled throughout, though most readers will find these plainspoken, free verse poems friendly and easy to grasp. Fans of poets like Matthew Zapruder will find much to like in this world in which "Poetry is an ovary with an eyeball in it." (Dec.)
Library Journal
In this second collection (after Iowa), Nichols, an editor at the Poetry Foundation, investigates how one can shape meaning in an elusive yet dense reality. Nichols creates a new world in which things yearn to be liberated from the referential power of the outside—something he ensures by using surreal imagery fostered by loose strings of thoughts, anecdotes, data, and odd pictorial scenes: "I yell, 'Ding Dong!' and the sky bursts/ open like a boil and a branch flies/ from my mouth and plunges into a cloud." The poet writes with a dramatic sense of reality, which can imperil his poetic insight. Yet he displays fine skills for detecting lively details to form a fresh poetic tapestry, and the poems could be read as a registry machine of fast-moving objects that fight vainly to be grouped and labeled just to revolt against the confinement of the labeling itself. One cannot escape noticing that some of the poems share the apocalyptic mood of the great absurd literature. VERDICT Nichols writes admiring poetry about the richness of what we see and experience. Recommended for all poetry readers.—Sadiq Alkoriji, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556593123
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
12/21/2010
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Travis Nichols: Travis Nichols is an editor at the Poetry Foundation. He is the author of Iowa, a collection of poems, and Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder, a novel. He edits the online magazine Weird Deer, and regularly contributes to The Believer, Paste, and The Stranger. His poetry has appeared in a wide range of magazines and journals, such as the Boston Review, Crowd, Lungfull!, and Denver Quarterly. He lives in Chicago.

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