Synopses & Reviews
Nick Lantz explores the transformative power of tragic and miraculous experiences, through these poems that illuminate near misses of tragedy and transcendence. His gaze is both roving and microscopic—the Challenger
explosion, Bigfoot, a love letter written from inside a missile silo, a mother naming and re-naming a family’s short-lived pets, and a plea for post-9/11 redemption. Lantz never lets his subjects or his readers off the hook, plunging head first into worlds that are both eccentric and familiar, alarming and hopeful.
Finalist, Foreword Magazine’s Poetry Book of the Year
“Blending pop culture with history, dark humor with philosophy, and lyric intensity with a confident narrative voice, The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House adds up to be far greater than the sum of its parts. The end result is a wise, intelligent book that lingers long after being read, and which further proves that Nick Lantz—despite the lethal irony of his work—is a poet to be believed in.”—Kevin González
“Lantz forces us again and again to reexamine the way we see through such a juxtaposition of facts as well as through the voices of characters who search for and experience improbable things: a cryptozoologist, those listening for aliens with SETI, a sci-fi actor, a werewolf. The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House becomes a lament not only for the neighbors and their tragedy but for ourselves––that we’re unharmed, that we can keep on keeping on.”—The Rumpus
“The persons ‘last seen’ in Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s beautifully haunting book include missing children the poet has researched and imagined and a young woman whose apparent leap off the Bay Bridge is at the center of ‘The San Francisco Sonnets.’ These absences, explored through a variety of formal strategies and peripheral perspectives, are echoed in fragments from the life of an elusive ‘you,’ and inform even the momentary joys of the abecedarian ‘Boy Met Girl’ poems. In their powerful tension between absence and presence, between broken narrative and richly detailed lyric, LaMon’s poetic sequences put all our assumptions about stability and permanence into question.”—Martha Collins, author of Blue Front
“Nick Lantz’s impressive poems are remarkable for their range and the variety of ways they maneuver down the page. . . . This is one of the finest books I’ve read in years.”—Vern Rutsala
“Lantz is a poet of many talents, but perhaps his greatest gift is juxtaposition. . . . We listen, amazed, as in poem after poem these notations we would have thought dissonant in fact harmonize, and then crescendo. That I can’t figure out how he does it just heightens the thrill.”—Joel Brouwer
“Nick Lantz's We Don't Know We Don't Know and The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors' House are both phenomenal books—the former is the 2009 Bakeless Prize-winner for poetry, the latter the 2010 Felix Pollack Prize-winner. Let's acknowledge that any writer who won just one of those contests would be worth attention; to win both prizes, and to have the books come out basically simultaneously, is the equivalent of a baseball player hitting a home run not just in his first at-bat, but off his first pitch.” —Rain Taxi
“At the heart of Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s new collection Last Seen is a haunting series of poems born of the silence tragedy and loss wedges into our lives. With restraint and through a variety of characters, LaMon gives voice to those whose voices have been lost to us, who’ve left behind only questions and vivid empty spaces the way a boy, dragging his foot, leaves a trace to follow, fleeting as a ‘mark in the snow.’”—Natasha Tretheway, author of Native Guard
“The most disturbing poetics of loss is often the most valuable, beautiful, and lethal. Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s Last Seen, winner of the 2011 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, is a deeply crafted sequence of poems about long-missing African American children in the US. LaMon is a master of the persona poem, where the voices of children, parents, abductors, and friends interact as each tale is revealed. Most poems are built in one single, long stanza, which adds to the tension and drama described. The result is a work in which multiple worlds of love and yearning become one large canvas of intimate humanity.”—The Bloomsbury Review
Inspired by actual case histories of long-term missing African American children, this provocative and heartrending collection of poems evokes the experience of what it means to be among the missing in contemporary America.
About the Author
Jacqueline Jones LaMon is associate professor of English and director of the MFA program in creative writing at Adelphi University. She is author of the poetry collection Gravity, U.S.A. and the novel In the Arms of One Who Loves Me. Her poems have appeared in such journals as the Bellevue Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Mythium, and RATTLE.
Table of Contents
Polygraph: The Control Questions
Who are you and whom do you love?
Where did you come from / how did you arrive?
How will you begin?
How will you live now?
What is the shape of your body?
Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?
The Elsewhere Chronicles
Mrs. Minor Gives Directions to Strangers
Two Waffles and a Tall Glass of Milk
The Clairvoyant Channels Clea Hall
Florida Keys Unidentified
Ten Items or Less
The Age-Progression Artist Pencils Thicker Lashes
A Suspect Mother Answers during Polygraph
"Let Me Run Upstairs and Get My Purse . . ."
How the Bryant Boy Will Know
The Facial Reconstructionist Has Cocktails with the Girls
The Network News Director Addresses His Process of Selection
For My Husband: Who Took Our Daughter to the Park So I Could Get Some Rest, Then Fell Asleep and Awakened to an Empty Stroller
Boy Met Girl
At the Carnival, Near Prospect Park
Through a Mutual Friend
At Lance and Carol's Wedding
In July, at Nathan's Clam Bar
On the Tennis Courts
At B. Altman's Department Store
On the Subway
At Rockaway Beach, in Late June
At Claire's Father's Funeral
The San Francisco Sonnets
The Taker Returns from a Ten-Minute Break
San Francisco Bridge Suicide Jumper Considers Relativity
The Missing Girl's Sister
Prom King Goes Stag His Senior Year
The Junior Detective's Wife Speaks Out on the Day of Their Divorce
The Missing Girl's Mother
Priest Refuses Comment on Accident Driver's Acquittal
Olympic Hopeful Assesses Her Victory
The Missing Girl's Cousin
The Present Song of Seagulls on the San Francisco Bay
The Missing Girl's Boyfriend
The Teacher Prepares the Crisis Counseling Team
Couple Tours Alcatraz on Their Silver Anniversary
The Missing Girl's Father
Polygraph: The Guilty Knowledge Test
. . .
What do you remember about the earth?
What are the consequences of silence?
Tell me what you know about dismemberment
Describe a morning you woke without fear
And what would you say if you could?
How will you / have you prepare(d) for your death?