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Nightjar: Poems

by  Michael Simms

Nightjar, cover

In this richly imagined collection of poems, Michael Simms draws inspiration from history, psychology, biology, and astronomy, yet at heart he is simply a man with stories to tell.

A poet returns home from the funeral of his parents to find that the language of grief is inadequate to describe his complicated relationship with his father, so he invents new words to describe his feelings. An autistic boy on a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns descends deep into the earth, and breathing the darkness, he becomes a bat. A high school performance of Euripides's The Trojan Women becomes a terrifying prediction of what will happen to one of the girls after graduation. A conversation between two old men about Schubert's Death and the Maiden recalls accusations of sexual harassment one of the friends faces.

And in a humorous ars poetica, Simms dreams of kidnapping Charles Bukowski and spiriting him to an AA meeting where Buk slings insults, jumps out the window and flies to the nearest bar on black wings, leading Simms to realize that American poetry needs its misfits and outlaws, and in fact, he prefers poems with a little dirt on them.

Praise for Nightjar

“The lines of Michael Simms’ Nightjar are deceptively relaxed, as if you are being invited into his house: ‘It was one of those April snows/we used to get in Pittsburgh/before America went to hell;’ words a sane person with a heart might say but pitched intimately as poetry. Like William Stafford he can write an apparently plain line that reveals its longing as an after effect: ‘the darkness inside me/would merge with//the darkness of the world.’ A great book to hang out with all weekend and then start over again.”
     —Doug Anderson, author of Horse Medicine

“This powerful collection offers personal and global truths that are hard to say out loud; one poem even helpfully coins the words we need. But all the words deployed by Michael Simms are honest and urgent. ‘The Ruins,’ ‘Flood and Fire,’ and the title poem recall the darkly vatic voice of Brecht’s late lyrics. Yet, Simms always sounds like himself: plainspoken, intimate, vulnerable, courageous. Both heartening and heartbreaking, Nightjar is an irreplaceable book.”
     —Rachel Hadas, author of Love and Dread

Nightjar/by Michael Simms
ISBN: 978-1-933974-43-9
$17 each/ all orders to:
Returns to: Red Cedar Distribution

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