Owen McLeod's extraordinary debut maps the contours of an ordinary life: the rise and fall of romantic love, the struggle against mental illness, and the unending quest for meaning and transcendence. Ranging from sonnets and sestinas to experimental forms, these poems are unified by their musicality, devotion to craft, and openness of heart.
From "All Saints' Eve"
From a La-Z-Boy abandoned
on the basketball court, I watched
you light up the KFC, part traffic
for the rush-hour ambulance, raise
weeds from asphalt cracks, cause rain
to come down like Adidas on me,
mofo of infinite faith. Trees
were your fingers, not prints or clues.
Never were you uppercase with me.
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In Dream Kitchen, Plato, Socrates, and Stevens share space with Nerf balls, Goodwill shirts, and Exxon bathrooms; and of course they do, because there is room enough in this life, and room enough in these poems, for the high and low, the beautiful and terrible, the intimate and strange.
—Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones
Owen McLeod's Dream Kitchen is a debut of startling originality, alive with both the relentless sadness and unlikely beauty of strip-mall America. With an astronomer's eye for detail, and a carnival barker's sense for the uncanny and absurd, his darkly funny poems grieve for what we lose, even as they pulse with the fantastic. Formally and tonally dexterous, his poems range from a lovelorn magic realism to philosophical inquiry grounded in the gritty details of contemporary America, with the comic ghost of Stevens presiding.
—Mark Wagenaar, author of Voodoo Inverso
Philosophical and funny and openhearted enough to read the world as a poem, Dream Kitchen is an astonishing book. These are poems for real people who live in real places. They look you in the eye and shake their heads with rueful humor. They hunger for the impossibility of intimacy. They offer risk and wit, and the occasional surreal moments, not for the sake of strangeness, but from a close and tender looking at the world.
-–Michael Bazzett, author of Interrogation and translator of The Popol Vuh