$16.95 paperback (9780899241463)
hardcover not available
Published: August 2016
66 pages, 6 x 8.5 in.
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Dave Nielsen’s award-winning first volume radiates empathy and good will while, at the same time, offering startling, image-based examinations of the physical world that dive lightning-like into the spiritual and back again. Not only are the poems made of everyday language spoken on the farm, the basketball court, in the barber shop, anywhere really, they also follow the American tradition of mining wonder and beauty out of ordinary moments and things. Their unadorned images and deceptively straight forward construction suggest kinship with the work of James Wright, Mark Strand, W. S. Merwin, and Elizabeth Bishop. The book is a marvelous first flight.
In his prize-winning collection Unfinished Figures, Dave Nielsen creates mystery and wonder using the ordinary stuff of Middle America. It’s all familiar and then it’s not: a father carrying his first-grader’s backpack feels the literal weight of the world inside; a series of cattle dogs with the same name become one infinite, perpetual, continuous dog. Books on the shelf, the street at night, dinner, basketball, the farm—all are recast in the heat of Nielsen’s ebullient imagination. The more I read and reread these disarming and addictive poems, the more I laugh, the more serious they become.
– Kathleen Flenniken