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In his dazzling new collection poet Michael Brosnan literally and figuratively deconstructs the "sublime" in every way imaginable.
"This world of us —
it seems only capable of revealing hints of care
in slant rhymes and odd enjambments.
And I’m wondering why we don’t cry more,
knowing there’s so little we
In this profound volume of experimental poetry, Michael Brosnan exhibits exquisite control as he employs (and invents) tools of verse language (far beyond mere “odd enjambments”) to interrogate – and deconstruct, literally – the word sublime, in all of its senses. “Excellence? Grandeur? Beauty? Inspiring unavoidable awe?” No mere exercise in linguistics, however, his enterprise provides the opportunity to consider no less than the entirety of human existence in the face of “the nagging matter of / the coming Sixth Extinction — hurried along / by superciliousness and / human hunger for what cannot be obtained.” “I want to find less in meaninglessness,” he declares; “I want to know if knowing can save us from ourselves,” and this book is the record of his search for that answer and hope. Many sublime companions (real and imaginary) are along for the ride – Mozart, Coltrane, Jimmy Page, Moby-Dick, Dr. Philosophy – while erasures of Wordworth poems frame and intersperse the work (an act of distillation that serves as a model for the book as a whole); and the titles of a library’s worth of books whispering from their shelves attests to his extensive reading. Impossible to describe in brief, it must be read to experience the sweep of Brosnan’s vision and venture. As for the payoff: in the end he is after “a small wave of contentment” as expressed in the craft of “Origami” – “Today, I’m seeking new possibilities / in a small illusion with unambiguous lines. // Look, world, look. / Our story is in tatters. // Here’s a ‘dove’ for you to hold. / I give it in peace. Make it fly.” In the closing Wordsworth erasure, and old man rises and hoists up his load, a fitting image for the service Brosnan performs for us in undertaking this poetry and philosophical enquiry.
”In his third collection, Michael Brosnan dissects and appraises, as with a surgeon’s scalpel or jeweler’s loupe, the concept of the sublime (“creature of mud and fog”): its guts and wonders, its flaws and majesty. Brosnan’s sport with typography and form depicts the slipperiness of sublimity, and the challenge of discerning it amidst the static of modern existence. A passion project of sweeping scope and crisp wit, this book will engage any reader who’s ever been bewildered or frustrated or amazed by the ineffable grandeur of our beautiful, fractured, complicated world.” — Maggie Dietz, author of Perennial Fall
”In this third volume, Michael Brosnan writes “bravely just outside the concentric circles/ of want and worry”.... His language is a searchlight for poetry, constantly a renewal. Travel with these poems as you would a knowledgeable circumnavigator who uses all wits, instincts, histories, indicators, observance, and questions to discover what’s sublime about the human journey.” — Peter Money, author of American Drone: New and Select Poems
Michael Brosnan, a poet and writer based in Exeter, New Hampshire, is the author of two previous collections of poetry - The Sovereignty of the Accidental (Harbor Mountain Press, 2018) and Adrift (Grayson Books, 2023). His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, and has won awards from New Letters, C.W. Post College, the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and other organizations. He has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
A graduate of Boston College and the University of New Hampshire Writing Program, Brosnan is also the author of Against the Current (Heinemann), a book on inner- city education. He has served as the long-time editor of Independent School, an award-winning magazine on precollegiate education, and has written dozens of articles and monographs on education and related matters.