Tap Out (Paperback)


By Edgar Kunz

Mariner Books, 9781328518125, 112pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

List Price: 14.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Approach these poems as short stories, plainspoken lyric essays, controlled arcs of a bildungsroman, then again as narrative verse. Tap Out, Edgar Kunz’s debut collection, reckons with his working‑poor heritage. Within are poignant, troubling portraits of blue‑collar lives, mental health in contemporary America, and what is conveyed and passed on through touch and words―violent, or simply absent.
Yet Kunz’s verses are unsentimental, visceral, sprawling between oxys and Bitcoin, crossing the country restlessly. They grapple with the shame and guilt of choosing to leave the culture Kunz was born and raised in, the identity crises caused by class mobility. They pull the reader close, alternating fierce whispers and proud shouts about what working hands are capable of and the different ways a mind and body can leave a life they can no longer endure. This hungry new voice asks: after you make the choice to leave, what is left behind, what can you make of it, and at what cost? 

About the Author

EDGAR KUNZ is a 2017 NEA Fellow and former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His work has received fellowships and awards from the Academy of American Poets, the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Vanderbilt University, where he earned his MFA. His poems appear widely, including in AGNI, New England Review, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, and the Best New Poets series. He lives in Baltimore where he teaches at Goucher College and in The Newport MFA at Salve Regina University.  

Praise For Tap Out: Poems

"Edgar Kunz extends the legacy of James Wright and Philip Levine in these gutsy, tough-minded, working-class poems of memory and initiation.  Tap Out is a marvelous debut, a well-made and harrowing book." —Edward Hirsch, author of Gabriel and A Poet's Glossary

“Edgar Kunz’s startling debut Tap Out is one of the best books of poetry I’ve read in a long time. These poems interrogate what is received and what is bequeathed in our damaged systems of masculinity, and they do so in ways that are unexpectedly vulnerable. At the same time, the poems are onomatopoeia of humility and busted machismo. It’s as if the poems themselves are surprised by how much harm has been done, how much energy and emotion have been expended simply surviving inside of our toxic patriarchy. Fathers are complicit. Friends and brothers are complicit. The speaker is complicit, too, and yet the poems do their vital work without soapboxing. They search constantly for better ways of being human. These are essential poems.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke and Map to the Stars