Hello everyone, we’ve got a new tour filling up for Oct./Nov. 2016: Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn, published by Louisiana State University Press on Sept. 1, 2016.
Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, the poet traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima.
As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse, Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.
“Like a modern-day Basho, Matthew Thorburn travels on a year-long journey through grief over the ‘almost girl’ he and his wife lose to miscarriage. Here, in artful, haibun-like free verse, the timely and timeless merge: geese are sucked into an Airbus engine, forcing an emergency landing; the poet contemplates the moon as he carries out a bag of garbage in the Bronx. The result is clear, mysterious, original, and ultimately hope-filled. Dear Almost might be the truest poem about miscarriage I’ve ever read.” —Katrina Vandenberg, author of The Alphabet Not Unlike the World
“Matthew Thorburn’s Dear Almost is a meditation on our lives and their impermanence, the miracle that we exist at all. The ghost of an unborn child hovers like a breath over these supple lines, but Thorburn finds room for food and prayer, for work and love, for keen observation of the twin worlds we inhabit, the one inside us and the one where our daily lives take place. I am glad to have Dear Almost in both of these worlds.” —Al Maginnes, author of Music from Small Towns
“One poem written across seasons, Matthew Thorburn’s Dear Almost is an elegy for an unborn child written out of love, kindness, and ultimately hope. There is sadness everywhere here that lives among the dailiness of our lives at home, around the world, and at work. What a capacious gift this poet has for perception, keen observation, and the written word, but even more so, a great gift for understanding all of the tangled cross-stitching of the human heart.” —Victoria Chang, author of The Boss
About the Poet:
Matthew Thorburn is the author of six collections of poetry, including the book-length poem Dear Almost (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House Press, 2015), winner of the Coal Hill Review chapbook competition. His previous collections include This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser Press, 2013), Every Possible Blue (CW Books, 2012), Subject to Change, and an earlier chapbook, the long poem Disappears in the Rain (Parlor City Press, 2009). His work has been recognized with a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, as well as fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His interviews with writers appear on the Ploughshares blog as a monthly feature. He lives in New York City, where he works in corporate communications.
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