"Something of the energy, the savagery and emotional fierceness of Robert Lowell's early poems are to be found in this impressive book by Joshua Mehigan. These poems are often wound tight as spring, and are concentrations of violent feelings and visions of cruelty, yet uttered in a language quietly brilliant, as well as undeniably powerful."—Anthony Hecht
The Optimist, by Joshua Mehigan, is remarkable for its mastery of form and of tone. Mr. Mehigan is Frost-like in the way he plays speech rhythms against the patters of verse, creating a tense, deceptively simple music
.”Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun
This is a poet with absolutely no reliance on madness or on romantic mismatch between himself and the world, and he should, at the very least, be able to keep doing what he’s doing as impressively as he has been doing it, which is awfully impressively.”Poetry
Mehigan is already the sort of poet who gives you lines you want to write down and remember
. There’s nothing old-fashioned about rhyme and meter when they’re used with mastery. Reader, Joshua Mehigan’s poetry is a passionate pursuit of the real.”The Hudson Review
"Joshua Mehigan’s The Optimist, though a first book, is already the work of a master coming into his unique own. Mehigan writes with a deep and alarming calmness that derives directly from his mastery, and his poems shine with luminous strangeness. The Optimist possesses the mysterious vision and power of great art.”Andrew Hudgins
There is more insight into domestic grief in these and other poems in The Optimist than in a dozen louder, more overtly confessional books. And that sense of insight born from experience is what makes Mehigan’s work so moving and impressive. Few American poets, old or young, seem to know so much.”Contemporary Poetry Review
From the Publisher
In Joshua Mehigans award-winning poems, one encounters a lucid, resolute vision driven by an amazing facility with the metrical line. Most of the poems in The Optimist unapologetically employ traditional poetic technique, and, in each of these, Mehigan stretches the fabric of living language over a framework of regular meter to produce a compelling sonic counterpoint. The Optimist stares at contemporary darkness visible, a darkly lit tableau that erases the boundary between the world and the perceiving self.
In choosing this book for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, final judge James Cummins, wrote:
"Mehigan accesses a tradition of voices . . . to form with great integrity his own. It isnt that Mehigan is concerned more with whats outside himself than inside; nor merely that he travels the highway between the two with such humility and grace. Its also that these voices, this great tradition, infuse his line with what the best verse, metrical or free, must have: wonder."
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