Cover image for 13th balloon : a poem
Title:
13th balloon : a poem
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections
ISBN:
9781556595776
Physical Description:
93 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Lannan Literary Selections"
Genre:
Summary:
In his fourth collection, 13th Balloon, Mark Bibbins turns his candid eye to the American AIDS crisis. With quiet consideration and dark wit, Bibbins addresses the majority of his poems to Mark Crast, his friend and lover who died from AIDS at the early age of 25. Every broken line and startling linguistic turn grapples with the genre of elegy: what does it mean to experience personal loss, Bibbins seems to ask, amidst a greater societal tragedy?
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Summary

Summary

In his fourth collection, 13th Balloon, Mark Bibbins turns his candid eye to the American AIDS crisis. With quiet consideration and dark wit, Bibbins addresses the majority of his poems to Mark Crast, his friend and lover who died from AIDS at the early age of 25. Every broken line and startling linguistic turn grapples with the genre of elegy: what does it mean to experience personal loss, Bibbins seems to ask, amidst a greater societal tragedy? The answer is blurred-- amongst unforeseen disease, intolerance, and the intimate consequences of mismanaged power. Perhaps the most unanswerable question arrives when Bibbins writes, "For me elegy/ is like a Ouija planchette/ something I can barely touch/ as I try to make it/ say what I want it to say." And while we are still searching for the words that might begin an answer, Bibbins helps us understand that there is endless value in continuing--through both joy and grief--to wonder.


Author Notes

Mark Bibbins was born in 1968 in Albany, New York. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School, and is the author of four books of poems, including They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry, They Kill You Because They're Full , The Dance of No Hard Feelings , and Sky Lounge , which received a Lambda Literary Award. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT magazine. In addition to teaching, Bibbins is the editor of the poetry section of The Awl , a web magazine. He lives in New York City.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The achingly beautiful fourth collection from Bibbins (They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry, They Kill You Because They're Full) is a book-length elegy to a lover who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992. "Not lovers/ though we loved," Bibbins writes. "Not boyfriends though we were/ friends and still/ boys in most ways when you died." The collection's title references a memorial to this beloved, the release of 12 balloons, crossing time to position the book as the 13th component. It's a move emblematic of the book's powerful ability to stitch the past to the present: "There are days when everything feels like a metaphor/ for your having died// There are days/ when nothing does." Bibbins is attentive to time's passing, not easily captured in traditional notions of fading: though the speaker doesn't "have that many/ memories of you left," the gift of The Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara that he keeps at his bedside testifies to the persistence of the beloved's presence. The scope of this darkly humorous and always tender book paints a portrait of grief as a fellow traveler that morphs but loses none of its power over time--a power readers will be lucky to experience. (Feb.)


Excerpts

Excerpts

A few months after you died I came home on a black and freezing night to find a small cardboard box on the steps outside my building I opened the lid and inside was a single newborn animal hairless pink and clean a rat a guinea pig I couldn't tell Was it moving I don't remember now why can't I remember that now It can't have been moving it couldn't have been alive I considered my cat asleep in my apartment would he kill this creature if it lived Did I have any milk and how would I get any milk anyway inside this tiny thing that surely could not be alive What kind of person might have come and left a baby possibly dead animal there in a box on my stoop what kind If this was a test I failed it I carried the box three blocks to the river and threw it in I have never so much as in the moment the box went under the surface of the water stabbing itself like a million obsidian knives wished that I were dead If death is a test I fail If death is a test I pass What might anyone have made of you and me as babies born into the mess and ferment of the late 1960s Working-class babies born to parents who themselves were babies during World War II Were they worried already about Vietnam or about some other monstrous hand that would grab us from our cribs by our feet and throw us into the war that would be the war after that They could not have known that our war because everyone lands in one would be a disease or that one of the hands that failed to close quickly or tightly enough around this disease to stop it from killing you would also belong to the state At the beginning of every war every baby is replaced with an x-ray of a baby In every eclipse the sun is replaced with an x-ray of the sun Excerpted from Thirteenth Balloon by Mark Bibbins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.