This is Fifty-three is Kevin J. O’Conner’s seventh collection of poems—and his most ambitious to date.
This is not your typical poetry collection or photography book. Instead, it is an exploration, through words and pictures, of living with uncertainty at a time when we’d expect most of life’s big questions to have been already answered.
This Is Fifty-three breaks many of the unwritten rules governing poetry books, from its 8.5" x 8.5" format to its full-color interior, with graphics and/or photographs accompanying each poem. To emphasize the personal nature of the work, a self-portrait of the poet appears on the front cover.
Finally, This Is Fifty-three is an exploration of form and craft, both in words and visuals:
In my poems, I have continued to try out different forms and styles in order to stretch myself as a writer. As for the visuals, my previous books used images to mark the boundaries between sections; here, they are an integral part of the whole, whether complementing the text, or providing a counterpoint—or stirring things up.
The end result, for better or for worse, is an honest portrayal of me at age fifty-three.
—Kevin J. O’Conner, August 2016.