Ambivalence and Other Conundrums

Craig Morgan Teicher


February 2014

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These prose poems are parables of the human condition, written in plain-spoken unguarded candor, yet they sparkle with lyric surprise and imagistic inventiveness. Teicher is by turns seriously insightful, and cleverly playful as he examines the complex connections between self and other.

Listed by Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert as a key title of April 2014:

Witty and inventive, clear-eyed and open, Colorado Prize winner Teicher always writes touchingly of the everyday. Here he offers a series of prose poems that consider our sometimes fraught being in the world.

About the Author

Craig Morgan Teicher is a poet, critic, and freelance writer, author of three books. His first, Brenda Is In The Room And Other Poems, was chosen by Paul Hoover as Colorado Prize for Poetry winner. His reviews and essays appear widely in places like, Poets & Writers, Boston Review. He is Director of Digital Operations and Poetry Reviews Editor of Publishers Weekly, a poetry editor of The Literary Review, a contributing editor of Pleiades, and a Vice President of the National Book Critics Circle. He teaches at The New School, New York University and lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and children.

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Colorado Prize winner Teicher explores elemental issues (“Fear,” “Sex,” “Art”) in deceptively conversational prose poems that prove surprisingly wise. Remarkably, he can take a simple act like breathing and unpack meaning without pretension (“the expulsion of the old to make room for the new”) and wax witty (pigeons “coo like horny machines”) and plaintive (“digging a tunnel back to childhood with a spoon”) in the same sentence. A delight.

This little chapbook takes on some big topics (disappointment, worry, regret and many others) that lurk on the edges for all of us.

Only the brave write them down because this means acknowledging that he/she has wavered on them. Read, for example, the opening line of Teicher’s “Fear,” “I am afraid of what is true.”

This is a good little book (23 poems on small pages) to read slowly, to riddle out, as life moves forward day by day, continuing to puzzle us.

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He gives and his secret is he expects the beloved to give
precisely as much in return. He worships in exchange for
worship befitting a returning hero whose heroism is worship.
      And so the exact price of love is love that is exactly
alike, which no two loves are—one’s rose is another’s ring
—so lover and beloved are always accounting, always paying
and collecting the debts they are tallying, always trading
places, now one looms over the other like a colossal tax.
      In arrears, the lovers need not cleave to one another.
Bonded by their debt, they can only move so far, only come
so close, before what each owes pulls like a leash.

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