My Bishop and Other Poems
by Michael Collier
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Paper: 978-0-226-57086-0 | eISBN: 978-0-226-57105-8
Library of Congress Classification PS3553.O474645A6 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.54

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Think of a time when you’ve feigned courage to make a friend, feigned forgiveness to keep one, or feigned indifference to simply stay out of it. What does it mean for our intimacies to fail us when we need them most?

The poems of this collection explore such everyday dualities—how the human need for attachment is as much a source of pain as of vitality and how our longing for transcendence often leads to sinister complicities. The title poem tells the conflicted and devastating story of the poet’s friendship with the now-disgraced Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, interweaving fragments of his parents’ funerals, which the Bishop concelebrated, with memories of his childhood spiritual leanings and how they were disrupted by a pedophilic priest the Bishop failed to protect him from.

This meditation on spiritual life, physical death, and betrayal is joined by an array of poised, short lyrics and expansive prose poems exploring how the terror and unpredictability of our era intrudes on our most intimate moments. Whether Michael Collier is writing about an airline disaster, Huey Newton’s trial, Thomas Jefferson’s bees, a piano in the woods, or his own fraught friendship with the disgraced Catholic Bishop, his syntactic verve, scrupulously observed detail, and flawless ear bring the felt—and sometimes frightening—dimensions of the mundane to life. Throughout, this collection pursues a quiet but ferocious need to get to the bottom of things.

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