At once an extension of and a departure from his previous explorations of family and art, Craig Morgan Teicher’s The Trembling Answers delves boldly into the tangled realms of fatherhood, marriage, and poetry. Dealing with the day-to-day of family life—including the alert anxiety and remarkable beauty of caring for a child with severe cerebral palsy—these personal narratives brightly illuminate the relationship that exists between poetry and a life fiercely lived.
When did I grow so
fastidious? When did I learn
to use spreadsheets? There was no
particular day; it happened in my
thirties, that mostly pleasant path
between youth and whatever’s up next.
Two deer appeared suddenly in our
backyard today; I practically yelled
everyone to the window. They ate
leaves from our rented trees
and soon moved on. Simone
was amazed, Cal smiled. When
did the deer visit our yard?
It was sometime in my thirties.
"Teicher’s poems are largely confessional and autobiographical, and The Trembling Answers is no exception; this particular volume deals with explorations of family and fatherhood, and the role his poetry plays across each. One of Teicher’s great strengths is his honesty. He frequently reveals his flaws and mistakes to the reader, laying bare intimate details about his wife, his son, and his marriage to illustrate his humanity. His writing is full of lists and repetition, as if Teicher is searching for answers in real-time. Each poem is meaty and sprawling, providing plenty of space for interpretation and re-interpretation."
"An affecting examination of the trade-offs that parenthood, adulthood, and art require. This is a modest book, but also a rare, undeceived one. It offers only what it can, which may be all that poetry can hope to: small joys and hard-won wisdom."
"Prolific reviewer, Colorado Prize winner, and director of digital operations at Publishers Weekly, Teicher writes affectingly about family relations and the particular burdens and beauties of raising a disabled child. This is poetry, in other words, about how life really feels: 'Night is long, life short. / I cover you with my eyes.'"
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"Craig Morgan Teicher's The Trembling Answers, an 'ultra-vivid / catalog of things / undone, hopes // unfulfilled, opportunities unnoticed so / untaken,' is a portrait not only of the speaker (who is handsome, he claims in one of his many wry unvarnished self-assessments, as long as he avoids the mirror) but of any human being who refuses to delude himself as life's options narrow and love deepens, sharpens, extracts its beautiful dues from us. Humor and fearlessness pulse through these poems. Teicher's so-called 'answers' are complicated by anxiety, excitement, and the drive to know in these poems of resilience, joy, lament, and the existential dread of the 'looming erotic.' Time seems to run backwards even as it moves relentlessly forward. Teicher’s speakers are like those figures whose faces are half-smiling, half-crying, mordantly aware of their own beautiful failings and contradictions. Part confession, part manifesto, part x-ray, this is a beautiful mea culpa, an I was here that invites its readers to take up their own unanswerables."
"Craig Morgan Teicher's The Trembling Answers is feverish, big, loving, and tender. In this book we find tireless children, tired parents, everyday chores, and wild imagination. This poet is in love with poetry and so we can trust him to deliver. This book is a stunner unlike anything else I have encountered. Read it and weep."
"In these poems, Teicher creates a character, call him Craig Morgan Teicher, who you feel you know and believe."
—Hannah Brooks-Motl, Bookforum
"With these refreshingly human, formal, playful, and heart-wrenching poems, Teicher not only proves that form may be adapted to fit a contemporary idiom, but that he's built his own 'Life Studies' within the confessional tradition, one which pushes against his predecessor's self-aware and often selfish use of confession, successfully re-enervating the sense of a real life behind the voice."
—Maya Catherine Popa, The Rumpus
"I recommend Craig Morgan Teicher’s new poetry collection, The Trembling Answers, a book of enormous beauty and revelation and hanging questions"
—Natalie Shapiro, Kenyon Review
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2017