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John Schneider

Swallowing the Light


2023 NYC BBA Distinguished Favorite

If one of the aims of poetry is to condense our vast, contradictory, beautiful world into the briefest of songs, Swallowing the Light stands as a testament to its possibility. In these vibrant poems of landscape, family, societal violence, and both personal and cultural identity, Schneider exhibits a true talent for imbuing natural, experiential detail with authenticity, layered meanings, and lyricism. But Swallowing the Lightis so much more than that; it’s also brimming with potent meditations grounded in the familiar that eventually open us up to something far greater. It takes risks by exploring sincere, often harsh realities through rich, accessible language. These poems are intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging, written by someone with clear eyes and an open, curious heart that shies neither from the darkness nor the light that, together, define the human condition. --John Sibley Williams, Author of Scale Model of a Country at Dawn Swallowing the Light opens its aperture to the harsh and the lovely in many corners of the world and close to home. These poems are threaded through with alert detail — sun reflects off flat-screen TVs tied to mule backs in a city medina. Fresh blood coats a cheetah's whiskers and a temple's pink limestone floor. Nothing is too large nor small for this poet's wide-ranging attention. John Schneider witnesses his world, our world, with compassion and precision. --Molly Fisk, Author of The More Difficult Beauty, and Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow John Schneider’s Swallowing the Light is a singular collection of poems that have all of the immediacy of a photograph and all of the texture and depth of beautifully played music. Detail is carefully selected, and images delicately etched. Some of the poems are about the ordinary, others about the extraordinary, but they all carry the force of reality carefully observed and exquisitely rendered. These are poems I return to, and each time I pay them a visit, I find something new and remarkable. --Thomas H. Ogden, Author of This Will Do…
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Publication Year:

Kelsay Books



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