A new collection of poetry from the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. . . we are fixed to perpetrate the species-- I meant
perpetuate--as if our dutywere coupled with our terror. As if beauty itself were but a syllabus of errors.
Troy Jollimore's first collection of poems won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was hailed by the New York Times
as a snappy, entertaining book, and led the San Francisco Chronicle
to call him a new and exciting voice in American poetry. And his critically acclaimed second collection expanded his reputation for poems that often take a playful approach to philosophical issues. While the poems in Syllabus of Errors
share recognizable concerns with those of Jollimore's first two books, readers will also find a voice that has grown more urgent, more vulnerable, and more sensitive to both the inevitability of tragedy and the possibility of renewal.
Poems such as Ache and Echo, The Black-Capped Chickadees of Martha's Vineyard, and When You Lift the Avocado to Your Mouth explore loss, regret, and the nature of beauty, while the culminating long poem, Vertigo, is an elegy for a lost friend as well as a fantasia on death, repetition, and transcendence (not to mention the poet's favorite Hitchcock film). Ingeniously organized into sections that act as reflections on six quotations about birdsong, these poems are themselves an answer to the question the poet asks in On Birdsong: What would we say to the cardinal or jay, / given wings that could mimic their velocities?