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From discursive essay-poems to tightly constructed lyrics, Ed Falco’s X in the Tickseed examines a world that reveals itself through its mysteries, reflecting upon the ephemeral nature of all things. In the series of poems that bookend the collection, a speaker identified only as X reviews personal history and relationships, speculating, pondering, and questioning in the face of a baffling universe. Peppered between the X poems, artists as varied as Artemisia Gentileschi, Frank O’Connor, and Nick Cave surface, usually in poems posing as essays about their art. Other poems range from explorations of cultural perspective, as in “A Few Words to a Young American Killed in the Tet Offensive,” where a war resister addresses a young man of his generation who died in Vietnam, to the often playful “An Alphabet of Things.” Throughout, Falco’s poems speculate on matters of life and faith, intensified by an awareness of death.

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X in the Tickseed

X in the Tickseed is a gorgeous, riveting meditation on memory, mortality, art-making, and the complications of living. Equal parts lyric, narrative, and philosophical, Ed Falco’s poems remind us that the world is beautiful and terrible in equal measures. And these poems are not just ontological explorations; they let the world in, in all of its corporeality and messiness—through a Brooklyn childhood, the ravages of alcoholism, Tolstoy and Delacroix, a car accident in the Kentucky mountains, the Vietnam War—and show us, ultimately, “that for you and for us there will be radiance.”

 

--Erika Meitner, author of Holy Moly Carry Me, NBCC Award Finalist

These are poems informed by a true awe for the natural world and deep empathy for the human world. “Everything’s only beautiful for a little while,” one poem concludes. Yes, but the emphasis here, and throughout these meditative poems, is on the beautiful--no matter how short-lived it may be or how painful its loss. In its masterful control of language and form, its clarity and layered complexity, this book is itself a work of beauty, one that will last for a long while.

 

--Eric Nelson, author of Horse Not Zebra

The poems in X in the Tickseed manage to be both lush and crisp at the same time. They’re shot through with opposites: a heart that both bleeds and heals in one poem, a shower of blossoms that soothes yet burns in another. Both smart and heartfelt, these poems are meant to be not nibbled but devoured, again and again. 

 

--David Kirby, author of The Winter Dance Party: Poems 1983-2023, and NBCC Award Finalist

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