From Publishers Weekly
Laconic yet passionate and sparely personal, the poems in this first book set urbanity and unfolding tragedy in common words and slow-moving, short lines. A gallery owner since the 1990s and a significant figure in New York City's art scene, Healy unsurprisingly sets some poems there; his real gifts emerge, though, in allegorical or remembered rural locales. In one poem â€œmother and sonâ€ take â€œa Sunday drive on Tuesdayâ€ through the land where they grew up, â€œtheir remembered selves waving,/ as farmers do.â€ The specter of chronic disease, likely HIV, looms over that and other verse (â€œEveryone is so involved/ keeping track of my pillsâ€), while the shadow of time passing besets them all; readers who admire Mark Doty may find far more concise versions of Doty's effects. Healy's finest moments make him spare, elegiac and wry all at the same time: â€œWhat do we do when we hate our bodies?/ A good coat helps.â€ So often interested in bodies, their pleasures, their troubles, Healy frequently decides that neither poetry nor anything else can console us when bodies don't work: â€œsleep, vegetables, short walksâ€ or even poems all seem to lead â€œto the logic of failure,// the panic that mind/ is not enough.â€ (Nov.)
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"Laconic yet passionate and sparely personal, the poems in this first book set urbanity and unfolding tragedy in common words and slow-moving, short lines. Healy's finest moments make him spare, elegiac and wry all at the same time: 'What do we do when we hate our bodies?/ A good coat helps.' ..."—Publishers Weekly
"…What the Right Hand Knows [by] Tom Healy is a first book poet who has a clear and urgent style, a straightforward ownership of his emphatically lyrical choices. … [T]hese are poems about being off-beam, asymmetrical, off-balance in a deaf ear, the left and right hand at odds in their knowledge, the world tipped one way, then another. —Carol Muske-Dukes, The Huffington Post