The Hat City after Men Stopped Wearing Hats

by John Surowiecki
Washington, DC

© 2007 by John Surowiecki
64 pages

0-915380-64-1 (paperback)

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From the Back Cover --

Of Wallace Stevens, Richard Wilbur reminisced, “he thought a postcard was the ideal form, something like the sonnet, in which people could send each other signals without unnecessary pain.” Now another Connecticut poet, John Surowiecki, in language as compressed and as crucial as that penciled on any pivotal postcard, offers lyrics that convey dashed hopes and routine absurdities with elegance and wit. “We speak/ in a language that’s mostly holes,” he observes, noting elsewhere that “what we say/ tends to die stillborn on our lips.” Yet in poems that praise the ephemeral and seek to understand “why love/ becomes unborn in a misappropriation of time,” Surowiecki echoes fellow masters of the sublime who “search for something that’s/ certain to arrive and just as certain to pass.” His poems are replete with flickering, moth-like grace.

—Michael Waters, author of Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems

In John Surowiecki’s magnificent poems anything can happen. Small children imagine Chinese communists invading tulips; fish wear fedoras and suffer mercury shakes; he-men glisten like glazed doughnuts. Although these poems are not confessional, the voice is so personal and moves so deftly between colloquial and lyric that readers feel immediately at home. Surowiecki’s subjects are neighbors, backyards and gardens, small towns. Each magical Hat City poem flows to a brilliantly turned last line. “Each birth celebrated, each death mourned/—and, in between, each life exalted.”

—Joan Joffe Hall, author of In Angled Light

In John Surowiecki’s new collection there is no poet “wringing the neck of eloquence,” but a natural, lyrical voice that speaks through strong line, bright trope, and characters so real you know you know them. And Surowiecki is a master of the subtle surprise—his world is peopled by Shostakovich, Don Giovanni, Frida Kahlo, Mr. Krok, Mrs. Wrubel, Mrs. Tencza, The Polka King, as well as a “piece-of-crap Chevy,” fruit flies, barflies, heroin addicts, strontium 90, epistemology, Sea Hunt—and a sublime tenderness that suffuses it all.

—Renée Ashley, author of The Revisionist’s Dream



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