Night Manual (Made in Michigan Writers) (Paperback)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814346624, 96pp.
Publication Date: May 6, 2019
Night Manual is a survival guide for life-all the messy, wonderful, grieving, and self-doubting parts of life. David Hornibrook's debut poetry collection is a book of hours that keeps time through anguish and explores the ineffable borderland of existence. These are poems that seek to get at what cannot be described through a process of negation-to delineate the shape of an absence by writing the things around it.
Night Manual is divided into four sections loosely inspired by the four seasons. Each section explores the theme of absence from a slightly different proximity; as a whole, the book progresses from grief to gratitude. A major task of Hornibrook's is to communicate the gravity and perplexity of loss while at the same time charting out a kind of liturgy of joy and wonder at the cycle of life in an ever-changing world. With lines like "My eyes are pulled to the monitor / where a universe expands or contracts, I can't tell which" (from "The Ultrasound") to "Facebook keeps showing Miley with her mouth open / & I keep finding little things wrong with everything" (from "Self Portrait w/ Wrecking Ball"), Hornibrook has created instructions for moving through a world suddenly disoriented by loss, a world with starlings, water birds and aliens, robots and deer, Miley Cyrus and God, black holes, and the quiet morning strangeness of a house when all the people you love are still asleep.
Fans of contemporary poetry who want to believe in something again-who need a small dose of absurdity along with their suffering-this collection is for you.