Accepting the Disaster
By Joshua Mehigan
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374100988, 96pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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An astonishing new collection from one of our finest emerging poets
A shark’s tooth, the shape-shifting cloud drifting from a smokestack, the smoke detectors that hang, ominous but disregarded, overhead—very little escapes the watchful eye of Joshua Mehigan. The poems in Accepting the Disaster range from lyric miniatures like “The Crossroads,” a six-line sketch of an accident scene, to “The Orange Bottle,” an expansive narrative page-turner whose main character suffers a psychotic episode after quitting medication. Mehigan blends the naturalistic milieu of such great chroniclers of American life as Stephen Crane and Studs Terkel with the cinematic menace and wonder of Fritz Lang. Balanced by the music of his verse, this unusual combination brings an eerie resonance to the real lives and institutions it evokes.
These poems capture with equal tact the sinister quiet of a deserted Main Street, the tragic grandiosity of Michael Jackson, the loneliness of a self-loathing professor, the din of a cement factory, and the saving grandeur of the natural world. This much-anticipated second collection is the work of a nearly unrivaled craftsman, whose first book was called by Poetry “a work of some poise and finish, by turns delicate and robust.”
Joshua Mehigan’s first book, The Optimist, was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. His poems have appeared in many periodicals, including The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry, where he has been a frequent contributor of poems and essays. His writing has also been featured in Poetry Daily and The Writer’s Almanac, and in numerous anthologies. He is the recent recipient of Poetry magazine’s Editor’s Prize for Feature Article and of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mehigan lives in New York City.
Praise for Accepting the Disaster
"Accepting the Disaster is a book that anyone who reads poetry should read; I suspect we will be reading it for a very long time to come."
—Adam Kirsch, The New Republic
“At nearly every turn Joshua Mehigan makes the right choices—imaginatively and formally—in his exciting new collection Accepting the Disaster. And they're choices that could never be anticipated—uncanny, really, and thoroughly invigorating. Surprise and inevitability, that is the mark of a first-rate artist, and Mehigan is nothing if not that: breadth of intelligence, freshness of invention, skill at the wheel are everywhere to be found in these pages. The man's got it, in spades.”
—August Kleinzahler, author of Hotel Oneira
“These poems are built to last, and they will. It's the beautiful authority of the writing and its music, and of the deep disinterested pity and respect for these people and their things and places, poem after wonderful poem. The uncanny great poem ‘The Sponge,’ and, say, ‘The Cement Plant,’ ‘The Polling Place’ and ‘The Smokestack,’ and that amazing tour de force title poem are just instances, how strange, how sweet, of the mastery.”
—David Ferry, National Book Award-winning author of Bewilderment
Praise for The Optimist
“[A] work of some poise and finish, by turns delicate and robust, making balanced use of the imposing and receptive facets of intelligence . . . Does not feel like a debut.” —D. H. Tracy, Poetry