My New Book, Simple Machines: Sonnets!

| Simple Machines

Well, after a delay of many, many months, my new poetry collection is finally out in the world. Published by the Evansville Press at the University of Evansville, Simple Machines was selected by Ned Balbo as as the 2019 winner of the Richard Wilbur Poetry Prize.

The book is probably my most formal collection to date, with a series of four crowns of sonnets (a notoriously difficult kind of poetic sequence) and numerous individual sonnets as well. I wrote Simple Machines during a semester when I was a teaching a graduate class in formal poetry and felt the need to prove to myself that I still knew how to write in form. At the time, I was just beginning to suffer from a number of strange symptoms–brain fog, vertigo, tinnitus, and exhaustion–that would later be diagnosed as indications of Meniere’s Disease, a chronic illness of the inner ear. I felt disoriented in my own body, and my mental acuity was severely impacted. Writing Simple Machines made me believe that, even in this impaired condition, I still had full control of my own poetic craft.

Simple Machines is about things falling apart: romantic and platonic relationships, our democracy, our communities. But, formally, the book is about trying to keep things desperately in control. I now recognize that I wrote the manuscript at a time when even my own body felt like it was slipping away from me. You can read one of the sonnets from Simple Machines here. And you can buy the book here!