A collection of August Kleinzahler’s best poems, divided—like his life—between New Jersey and San Francisco
When August Kleinzahler won the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, the judges’ citation referred to his work as “ferociously on the move, between locations, between forms, between registers.” They might also have added “between New Jersey and San Francisco,” the places Kleinzahler has spent his life traveling between, both on the road and on the page.
This collection assembles the best of his New Jersey and San Francisco poems for the first time, organized according to place, with each city receiving its own title and cover.
Providing readers with a gorgeous guide to Kleinzahler’s interior geography, Before Dawn on Bluff Road (New Jersey) and Hollyhocks in the Fog (San Francisco) function as both word-maps and word-anatomies of one of our greatest poet’s lifelong passions and preoccupations.
About the Author
August Kleinzahler published his first book of poetry, A Calendar of Airs, in 1978. In 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, which won the 2004 Griffin International Poetry Prize. His collection of poetry, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of the prose books Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained (FSG, 2004) and Music: I-LXXIV (Pressed Wafer, 2009), and the winner of the 2008 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award. A native of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Kleinzahler currently lives in San Francisco.
"Captivating . . . So precise are Kleinzahler’s regional descriptions that a newcomer would be able to separate the East Coast poems from the West Coats poems without being told which are which. Too many poets these days seem to be allergic to a sense of place, as though rooting their work in a region would somehow shackle it to the mundane. But that quality of being grounded in parts of the country—places where there’s a specificity to the way the light hits your eyes and the air hits your nostrils—is one of the things that makes Kleinzahler’s poetry so appealing." —Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times Book Review
"August Kleinzahler brings together the best poems about the two places that helped shape his life . . . The result is a distinctive urban beauty that is sometimes gritty and often surprisingly lovely . . . Together, the two parts of the book convey the idea that sometimes two complementary opposites are necessary to satisfy a wandering spirit and fuel a writer’s growth." —Elizabeth Lund, The Washington Post
"The excellence of every poem in this beautifully designed and rigorously selected double collection reinforces the significance of his project. As Kleinzahler’s twelfth collection, this should confirm, if any doubts remain, that this winner of the Griffin Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award is among the best American poets writing today." —Michael Autrey, Booklist (starred review)