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Ladder of Hours

Keith Althaus


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"Keith Althaus has the kind of straightforward voice that commands attention: He makes a series of seemingly calm statements and wham , you're hit by the fact that he's telling the truth, the beautiful truth of what it's like to be alive right now."--Alan Dugan

Keith Althaus published his first book (Rival Heavens, Provincetown Arts Press) in 1993 and has been working in relative obscurity ever since. Ladder of Hours gathers poems written over four decades, a selection that teaches us how insight into everyday life can transform the world. Composed in language that is spare, almost skeletal, yet lacking nothing, Ladder of Hours investigates the subtleties of moments we might otherwise overlook. Althaus is interested in everything, from the label on a whiskey bottle to the distance between emotion and idea. His poems explode "ordinary" moments of perception, revealing unexpected meaning and resonance, and they do so in a way that seems strangely without ego, bent entirely on extracting and capturing the essence of his discoveries. Ladder of Hours takes us into numinous territory we didn't know was there.


The painful series
of operation that
culminate in death:
becoming forty, eighty,
neither one. Dying young
or old, awake or drugged,
or pleasantly unaware
in sleep as they say Auden
wanted to and did, with just
the slightest sensation,
like a sleeping baby
handed from one pair of arms
into another.

Keith Althaus has published poems in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, and numerous other magazines. He has worked at many jobs, including carpentry, tree planting, loft renovation, and clerical work, and now runs a gallery with his wife, the artist Susan Baker. They live in North Truro, Massachusetts.

Ausable Press, 9781931337274, 176pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2005

About the Author

Keith Althaus was educated at Hamilton College. His awards include a fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Agni and The Yale Review. His tribute to Alan Dugan appeared in January issue of American Poetry Review.