The ambitious and astonishing debut poetry collection by Timmy Straw, THE THOMAS SALTO forms its poetics in the shadow of the Soviet Union, the AIDS epidemic, US proxy wars, and the motion of a dangerous gymnastics move popularized during the Cold War—the "Thomas salto."
THE THOMAS SALTO takes its name from a difficult and dangerous move in gymnastics, a leaping triple flip popularized during the last years of the Cold War. Both in its Reagan-grained historicity, and in the human body that bears the leap’s flight and risk, the Thomas salto is a kinetic figure for these poems’ action in time and space. They shadow the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, the US proxy wars in Central America, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, the Soviet collapse—not as history but as the camouflage-pattern of “then” and “to come” which form the flickering and very real habitus of the present.
“These poems are in some sense unimaginable. They seem inscribed with a strange light as if at a weird angle. This is the real world, dingy, backlit and heartbreaking, and it is also a world where words can cut the world in half and give it back to itself but rarefied this time, now uneasy and beautiful and strange. You have never read poems that work like these, in their internal architecture and it’s breaking, between private and public, between world and… something else; Stevens and Oppen would weep— Straw writes ‘and if you write the poem you kindly / here or cruelly there can trace / the shadows of the netting / as it falls on people, animals, and things.’ This is exactly what they do in this work, with a skillful ear, care, and brilliance.” —Cody-Rose Clevidence
“Has our species ever been more in need of new ways of thinking through our relation to the real, to the simulated, to each other? With a visionary attention to the lived sensorium of the present and its historical givens, THE THOMAS SALTO reveals a brilliantly nuanced view of individual agency in the age of falling empires. If the future is survivable, this is what its poetry sounds like.” —Elizabeth Willis
“Musical and graceful like Super 8 movies of Victorian poetry, disjunctive and modern in its strange contiguities, Timmy Straw’s THE THOMAS SALTO employs great verbal precision to formulate sensations and perceptions, many of which give address to 1980s America and its inheritors. In these beautiful, intelligent poems, ‘this is how from time to time we find / a question to clear our answers for a time.’” —Eugene Ostashevsky
Interview with Timmy Straw @ The Paris Review“Little Song in the Locrian” by Timmy Straw @ The Yale Review“The ax” by Timmy Straw @ Annulet
Timmy Straw's poems, essays, and translations appear in Yale Review, Jacket2, Paris Review, Annulet, Chicago Review, and elsewhere, and their work has been supported by a Fulbright research fellowship to Moscow, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, and a Postgraduate Visiting Writer Fellowship at the University of Iowa. A graduate student in Comp Lit at Penn, they are also working on translations of the contemporary Russian poet Grigori Dashevsky.