At turns both funny and devastating, Marcel Brouwers‘ debut collection, The Old Cities, takes you on a linguistic adventure around the world and home again. The poems here are playful, smart, and never boring. This is a collection that any lover of language and travel should own. Pick up your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the Sundress store–just in time for the holidays!
“Marcel Brouwers’ debut collection The Old Cities is a travelogue of local and national curiosities, and in that the poems range so freely, there is a glide to this work, a welcoming ease. In that every subject in poetry, considered both carefully and freely, is as skewed as we are, these poems reveal, piecemeal–what other way, honestly, do we live out most of our lives–who we are at our least pretentious and most lively. The reader of these poems will find a plurality of intimated joys and sorrows. And, as well, a voice that is never merely shrewd but, and more consistently than any reader has a right to expect, ready at any moment to redress the ironies it registers so aptly. I love this book because it is in love with oddness. And it’s word-wise: just read the first poem: not a received noun or a stock phrase that isn’t affectively queried. If language got us into this mess, these poems seem to say, language will have to get us out.”
— William Olsen, author of Sand Theory
“These poems come at us much as contemporary culture comes at us, full-bore, multi-barreled, incessant. They engage with the frenzy of our time, and, in perhaps one of poetry’s most vital functions, they are subversive. They question, they put every thought under review. These are powerful, wistful, bemused poems–the health of poetry has just improved.”
— Arthur Smith, author of The Late World: Poems
“One of my teachers in graduate school once told me that a ‘decent’ first book of poems only needs about three ‘very good’ poems. If this is true, then it must be that Marcel Brouwers’ debut collection The Old Cities is an exceptional book. There are echoes of, among others, Frost and William Matthews–not bad company–but these poems are all Brouwers. His voice is equally compassionate and ironic, his vision equally expansive and precise, evidenced in a poem about his country: ‘Children who die go down as heroes / gone down.’ Humor often sidles up to grief in these poems, but it’s the pathos that rings the loudest: ‘I’m not in favor of the end / but it’s hard to think of what’s missing, a love / that wishes it be different and how it ultimately is.’ Just one of many beautiful moments The Old Cities possesses.”
— Alexander Long, author of Still Life