Your big red hood is up. Your vision an oval framed in fur. You wear kilograms of clothing. You manhandle the winter. Tear organs from its open stomach, melt them down and eat them. The wind sneaks past. Times are sharp. You see fog. You must be still. You wait out eternities. You have to remember that the outside does not get tired. Only you. Put your altruism away. First the pancreas, then the liver. Full of winter’s bitter fat.
To celebrate National Poetry Month we are again presenting an April Celebration: 30 Poets/30 Presses (#ArmchairBookFair21), a feature we initiated last year to help promote new releases whose publicity opportunities were thwarted due to the pandemic. Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.
“66°27’S 91°54’E” from IN THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE: by Dennis James Sweeney
Published by Autumn House Press 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Dennis James Sweeney.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Dennis James Sweeney is the author of In the Antarctic Circle, winner of the 2020 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, as well as four chapbooks, including Ghost/Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Being Haunted. His poems have appeared in The New York Times, Prelude, Poor Claudia, Quarterly West, and Territory, among others. A Small Press Editor of Entropy, he has an MFA from Oregon State University and a PhD from the University of Denver. Originally from Cincinnati, he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Winner of the 2020 Rising Writer Prize, selected by Yona Harvey
"Of literary 'whiteness' Toni Morrison asked, 'What is it for? What parts do the invention and development of whiteness play in the construction of what is loosely described as ‘American’?' In this extraordinary debut collection, Dennis James Sweeney revisits the question via the snowy, violent terrain of love, loss, and supreme isolation. What is the Antarctic Circle and why would anyone willingly live there? It was once promoted, perhaps, as a pristine place, a place to start over, to begin anew. But one cannot leap to newness without acknowledging '[t]he ancient lies [that] rise and gather blackly at the ceiling,' without those pesky blank pages that 'intentionally [hint] at loss,' or without a nod to the 'Black toboggans of the future' Sweeney observes."
—Yona Harvey, author of You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love
"Hints of Samuel Beckett and William Gass (snow, wind, eternity, terror) haunt this book. 'You will learn,' the narrator warns: “'n a whiteout you cannot see shadows, but that does not mean the edges are not there.' Sweeney startles with the precision of his figurative description: 'Harpoons loll in our arms like children too old to be held. Along the horizon animals run, disappearing over the brink of snow.'"
—Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions