Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize-winning poet and nationally recognized literary critic Craig Morgan Teicher’s Welcome to Sonnetville, New Jersey is a poetry collection about entering middle age, raising a young family, sustaining a marriage, and taking care of a severely disabled child.
Built around two sequences of sonnets, and interrupted by two sets of lyric poems, a set of prose poems, and a long poem about death, the book narrates a family’s move to the suburbs and their coming to terms with the ghosts of the past and with hard-to-hold hopes for the future.
He walks along the shore with his daughter.
He’s still young. They watch the water.
It’s beautiful, though the waves are rough.
Being near it today, together, is enough.
This is a holy moment, he thinks hopefully,
the kind that will become a memory
to feed the thin heart on a dry day
when his daughter has grown and gone away.
But she’s still right here, holding his hand
as waves roll in. She is—or was. He can’t understand
what happened—they had only just
turned to go home, but more time must
have passed. A moment, and it’s already now.
Where did she go? And when? And how?
“Teicher borrows an ember from Frank O’Hara’s ‘I do this I do that’ poetry to light his family hearth, wielding the urbane form in the service of suburban existentialism in these affecting lines.”
—Publishers Weekly, ★ Starred Review
"An understated, subtle dissertation on contemporary middle-class life in verse, and a fine introduction to a rising poet."
—Library Journal, ★ Starred Review
“From a state of bewilderment to the condition of omniscience, Craig Morgan Teicher’s poetry stands simultaneously inside and outside of common understanding, struggling to un-domesticate the mind even as it seeks to more deeply inhabit the intimacies of domestic life. This is a book of unflinching self-scrutiny, by turns meditative, plainspoken, funny, and profound, where answers are not stable solutions but achingly alert responses to the trauma and triumph of human existence.”
—2017 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize Judges Citation
“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.”
“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