Through poems of witness, species and habitat extinction, war, pandemic, technology, history, and race, Mark Irwin’s elegant collection of poetry explores the collision between metropolis and wilderness, and engages with forms of spirit that cannot be bound. With the incursion of electronic communication, our connections with one another have been radically distorted. Irwin’s poems confront what it means to be human, and how conflict, along with the interface between technology and humanity, can cause us to become orphaned in many different ways. But it is our decision to be joyful.
Excerpt from “Letter” Times when we touch hope like the hem of a cloud just as when we touch a body or door, or think of the dead come back, romancing us through the warp of memory, lighting a way by luring . . .
I. GO Goes Vertigo Balloon The Dead Light Letter Alive Couple Blue, Red Notre-Dame of Paris, 2019 Story Livestream Tree, River Hover The Life
II. HOME Was into Space Holiday Edges Joyful Orphan Ash The smaller house Arrival How long? Library of Water 3D Family Why- We Faces Hungry Radiance Wilderness Bright in June Sun
III. WILD Nike of Samothrace Legend All the tiny arrow Just once Gift Livestream English Plaster of Paris Spring, 2020 Nearer Variation on a Phrase by Dickinson Trailer from a Movie not yet Made 1937 Indian Head Nickel La liberté libre Thirst Pinprick Three Panels Yet Refrain
Notes Acknowledgments About the Authors
Mark Irwin is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including his most recently published work, Shimmer. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation,The New York Times, and Paris Review. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, and NEA. A professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles and rural Colorado.
“Joyful Orphan is skilled, masterful work.” —Sherwin Bitsui, Navajo writer and poet, author of Flood Song
“This collection is a deft and elegant lyric address, beautifully inclusive, to all the issues now of greatest concern.” —Donald Revell, professor of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and author of The English Boat
“Joyful Orphan is a beautiful book of poems that, while quiet and often domestic, have a long, larger view.” —Sasha Steensen, professor of English, Colorado State University, and author of House of Deer
“Joyful Orphan raises the question of belonging, and chooses the position of the orphan, who in Mark Irwin’s ecstatic poems, finds home everywhere. Who goes farther than that?” —Claudia Keelan, professor of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, editor of Interim, and author of eight collections of poetry, including We Step into the Sea