"Dickman's book moves with careful intensity as it confidently illuminates buried, contemporary suffering."—Publishers Weekly
"Elizabeth Bishop said that the three qualities she admired most in poetry were accuracy, spontaneity, and mystery. Michael Dickman's first full-length collection of poems demonstrates each brilliantly....These are lithe, seemingly effortless poems, poems whose strange affective power remains even after several readings. Again and again the language seems to disappear, leaving the reader with woven flashes of image, situation, emotion....These are durable poems from one of the most accomplished and original poets to emerge in years."—The Believer
"With vacant space and verbal economy, his work suggests volumes." —Poets & Writers
The poems in Michael Dickman’s energized debut document the bright desires and all-too-common sufferings of modern times: the churn of domestic violence, spiritual longing, drug abuse, and the impossible expectations fathers have for their sons. In a poem that references heroin and “scary parents,” Dickman reminds us that “Still there is a lot to pray to on earth.” Dickman is a poet to watch.
You can go blind, waiting
except for their
Moving the sea around
Unbelievable quiet inside you, as they change
the face of water
The only other time I felt this still was watching Leif shoot up when we were twelve
Sunlight all over his face
the surface of something
I couldn’t see
You can wait your
Michael Dickman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and began writing poems “after accidentally reading a Neruda ode.” His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, and The American Poetry Review.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My mother waits for me breathing easy having let her hair go silver, white longer now shining in this one of her many afterlives ...so starts the longer title poem at the end of the book. Michael Dickman, unafraid of facing a brutal upbringing, brings us a sparse, symbolic, minimally punctuated style - and I don't say this lightly - uniquely his own. What the reader is left with, in the blank spaces, is the depth of human lives lingering around death, smirking at hope. It's hard to imagine healthier ways to look at a tough upbringing full of drugs, parents who never made it out of their own childhoods, and well-meaning yet thin promises of relief, let alone a better life. Best to face the bitter, acidic past and get it over with - maybe. The summarizing end poem suggests that as merely a possibility. The poetic triumph here is the narrative of a boy, sometimes young, sometimes in his teens or twenties, slowly backing away from his environment, frantically looking around at bitter contradictions. The pausing - short lines, stanzas and poems - leaves the reader sunken emotionally and without looking at anything else but the people in Dickman's early life. But in stepping into this universe one is never confused, and never deceived one single bit. Dickman uses vivid, specific details in each poem, and powerful, open symbolism to bring a decaying world to life. From the 3rd poem in one of my favorite series, "Returning to Church": The light thorugh the stained-glass window was snow Do you want to be home forever? Its all right if you do Kiss me in the pew among strangers who aren't strangers but His other homeless children The light through the stained-lass window was snow, not Grace not Spirit Not, lightly His fingers I'm eager to see what Michael Dickman comes up with next.