So Far Afield by Frederick Speers
So Far Afield by Frederick Speers
2018 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST FOR GAY POETRY!
So Far Afield is a poetic study into the queer nature of love among men—a gay love that’s been called contra naturam—tracing their wild desires, spiritual connections, and unspoken encounters, from seaside to cemetery. With a voice both musical and broken, Speers’ debut collection incorporates classical lyric forms with a contemporary elliptical style to create new narratives about our old world—a world that keeps on falling in love, even as it’s falling apart.
Praise for So Far Afield
"So Far Afield is a rarity: a new work of art that is truly, ardently, memorably, about love. Frederick Speers’ well-told narratives of a gay man in this time and this place rotate like planets around that central, generative reality, love itself. This serious, lyrical, splendidly imagined book is entirely contemporary and at the same time a descendant (and in one poem, an inspired translator) of Catullus."
– Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate (1997–2000), is the founder of The Favorite Poem Project, and the author of numerous books, including the award-winning translation The Inferno of Dante. His most recent book of poems, At the Foundling Hospital (2016), was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
"So Far Afield is a love song to queer love, to love itself, to loss, to language in its swishing of senses: '. . . yet so positive / (Who doesn’t love a lost cause?)' His intricate self-interrupting syntax twines aubade to elegy, wit to lushness. His rotting lemons stand for all 'lovely being, being undone.' Within the gorgeous wordplay there’s a stark determination 'to make things clear, starting with ourselves.' His book is a gift of hard-won knowledge. A ravishing debut.
– Rosanna Warren, author of four collections of poetry, including Ghost in a Red Hat (2011) and Fables of the Self (2008), recipient of awards from the Academy of Arts and Letters and winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize, and teacher at the University of Chicago
“The capacity of men to love—and to love each other—intimately, with tender affection and abandon, is a constant theme in the poems of Frederick Speers’ gregariously fragile and yawp-ish first collection, So Far Afield. As such, Walt Whitman is a presiding spirit / companion, but so, too, is James Schuyler in the poems’ keenly observant, descriptive spokenness; so, too, is Gerard Manley Hopkins in the deliberate muscularity of their rhythms. These are poems meant to be read slowly aloud, every syllable savored—dancing, talking, whispering, fighting. 'May the death that lives within you die,' one notes. Palpably unguarded, old in the soul, and almost maniacally sublime, this is a book of radical open-heartedness. I love these poems for their artfulness, but also for how alive the life in them is. This isn’t just a dynamite first book, it’s a book of dynamite, one to return to.”
– Matt Hart, author of nine books of poetry, including most recently Radiant Action (2016) and Radiant Companion (2016), co-founder and editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, Associate Professor in Creative Writing and the Chair of Liberal Arts at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and plays guitar and shouts in the bands TRAVEL and THE LOUDEST SOUNDER
"What a joy to read a debut volume that is both brimming with the vigor of life and able to make a space for us to see—and mourn—the loss of it. From 'each finger curl of fruit' to the place where 'forever ends in a pair of arms,' Speers’ poems are a beautiful exploration of how we lose and find ourselves in the movements of the mind, the creation of the self and the experiences of countless varieties of love. In language at once intimate and abstract, revelatory and raunchy, these poems suggest sinews and syntax of the human heart."
– Kirun Kapur, author of Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist (2015), winner of the 2013 Antivenom Poetry Award by Elixir Press
"In Frederick Speers’ So Far Afield, men drink their own hearts, fold the corners of evenings, and find themselves and each other, cleaved together and apart. An anthem to love, to the rushing feeling of being alive, and to geography both real and imagined, this collection is a record of Speers’ inimitable vision of the world. From the crooked closeness of smiles about to give out, to a lonely ghost dressed in rags of hope, Speers examines a wild range of human strengths and frailties. He also creates his own language; its interruptions, contradictions and refrains mimic the meter of actual conversation and life, giving even greater depth to his lyricism. In observations at once utterly original and so true they feel familiar, Speers demonstrates the wisdom of his own line: 'again and again, we can be found.' A haunting and beautiful book."
– Rachel DeWoskin, author of Second Circus (forthcoming, 2018), Blind (2014), Big Girl Small (2011), Repeat After Me (2009), and Foreign Babes in Beijing (2005). She is on the fiction faculty at the University of Chicago.
All of our books are printed locally in Oakland, CA. We strongly believe in supporting local publishers and local printers.
September 2017 • 5 x 7 • 56 pp. • Trade Paper
Cover art by Arthur Johnstone
Interior and cover design by J. K. Fowler