Synopses & Reviews
. . . we are fixed to perpetrate the species--
I meant perpetuate--as if our duty?
were coupled with our terror. As if beauty
itself were but a syllabus of errors.
Troy Jollimore's first collection of poems won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was hailed by the New York Times as "a snappy, entertaining book," and led the San Francisco Chronicle to call him "a new and exciting voice in American poetry." And his critically acclaimed second collection expanded his reputation for poems that often take a playful approach to philosophical issues. While the poems in Syllabus of Errors share recognizable concerns with those of Jollimore's first two books, readers will also find a voice that has grown more urgent, more vulnerable, and more sensitive to both the inevitability of tragedy and the possibility of renewal.
Poems such as "Ache and Echo," "The Black-Capped Chickadees of Martha's Vineyard," and "When You Lift the Avocado to Your Mouth" explore loss, regret, and the nature of beauty, while the culminating long poem, "Vertigo," is an elegy for a lost friend as well as a fantasia on death, repetition, and transcendence (not to mention the poet's favorite Hitchcock film). Ingeniously organized into sections that act as reflections on six quotations about birdsong, these poems are themselves an answer to the question the poet asks in "On Birdsong": "What would we say to the cardinal or jay, / given wings that could mimic their velocities?"
Praise for Troy Jollimore's previous collection, At Lake Scugog: "Jollimore adds buoyancy to weighty human dilemmas without trivializing or distancing them. An engaging collection."--Library Journal (starred review)
The Description for this book, Syllabus of Errors: Poems, will be forthcoming.
"Thanks be to the powers of serious play. Rueful, resourceful, witty, and tender, Troy Jollimore's poems are at once a triumph of virtuosity and an extraordinary tribute to the amplitude of the human heart. Tonic in their clarity of means, joyful in their engagement with form, they also bespeak the rigor of a philosophical mind. I know no living poet who has been able to pursue such large ambitions with so transparent an instrument."--Linda Gregerson, author of Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014
About the Author
Troy Jollimore is the author of two previous collections of poetry, At Lake Scugog (Princeton) and Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, McSweeneys, the Believer, and other publications. He is a professor of philosophy at California State University, Chico.
Table of Contents
On Birdsong 3
Ache and Echo 5
On the Origins of Things 11
Critique of Judgment 12
Past Imperfect 16
II ON BEAUTY
On Beauty 23
Syllabus of Errors 24
Cutting Room 26
My Book 29
Going Viral 30
Death by Landscape 36
Second Wind 37
Chickadees of Martha's Vineyard 38
III ON BLINDNESS
On Blindness 43
The Apples 45
Charlie Brown 47
Some Men 49
The Proselytizers 51
Polaroid Model 1000 OneStep, Circa 1978 55
Ars Poetica 57
The New Joys 59
IV WHEN YOU LIFT THE AVOCADO TO YOUR MOUTH
The Task 64
More Broken than Yours 66
The Fourteen-Hour Orgasm 71
Not Enough 72
Poem for the Abandoned Titan Missile Silos Just North of Chico, California 76
Autumn Day (after Rilke) 77
The Small Rain 78
When You Lift the Avocado to Your Mouth 79
VI CONCLUDING UNSCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT
[maybe I just need time to grieve] 95
Notes and Acknowledgments 97