Inspired by Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, Craig Morgan Teicher’s To Keep Love Blurry is an exploration of the charged and troubled spaces between intimately connected people: husbands and wives, parents and children, writers and readers. These poems include sonnets, villanelles, and long poems, as well as two poetic prose pieces, all meditating on the relationship between truth and art. As a son becomes a husband and then a father, Teicher expertly probes a life recast as poetry, with poems that long to leap into the lives of their subjects.
“The Past Ahead”
I find myself looking forward to the past,
confident remembering will lengthen it,
that even forgetting will make it last
a little longer, as all the amassed
memory returns in flashes bit by bit.
It seems so accessible, so near, the past,
as though it were my own very vast
place, neither behind nor ahead, easy to visit.
The fact that it doesn’t last
makes no sense. I hardly have to cast
thoughts backward before I inhibit
—so why not look forward to?—the past,
full of real things I can pick up—the glass
dancer my mother loved, the statuette
my father bought her for their last
anniversary, the anniversary of which just passed.
She’s dead; that’s all that caused their split.
She’s all I’d go back for; otherwise the past
is forgettable at last. The dead last.
“The book risks most everything poetry can risk: family, reputation, legacy, privacy. The spirits of dead parents mix with a spouse and children and colleagues, and then, there’s Robert Lowell, who presides over this entire volume in a ghostly fashion that should get Harold Bloom’s attention.”—Publishers Weekly
“The majority of poems in this new work from Teicher… employ form in the best sense of the word– as a frame, not a crutch… When at his best, Teicher’s poems are formal and–as a welcome bonus– amusing.”—Library Journal
“The closing couplet of a sonnet or a Shakespearean scene signals a swift turn and the lingering note of finality that will continue to resonate so dramatically that it literally gives us pause. Teicher takes this familiar pattern as a starting point and varies his reinvention of it so thoroughly as to sound the heavens with its infinite measures. Herein, a long period of grief for which there is no comfort in form. A salacious glance at bodies reined in by exacting rhymes. A liberating push-back against the idea of economy. More play, more improvisation, and more defiantly deadpan humor – this is the vital shot-in-the-arm American poetry needs. And who would have thought it would arrive in such a disarmingly honest voice? The brilliance of these poems is how they renovate not only poetry but language, without pretense, without the declaration of war, without summoning the ghost of Shakespeare in any but the most charming ways. I could live in the mind of these poems and never want to leave. The nice thing is, as a guest at Teicher’s party in poetry’s honor: I get to dally among the roses.” —D. A. Powell
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2012