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Library of the Mind: New & Selected Poems
March 2019

Finding The Gossamer

Patrick Hicks

ISBN: 978-1-903392-82-9

Page Count: 80

Publication Date: Sunday, June 01, 2008

Click to play audio Patrick Hicks reading "Lipstick Traces" from Findi... play
Click to play audio Patrick Hicks reads "Not Springing Forward in Barc... play
Click to play audio Patrick Hicks reading "Spelling Lessons" from Find... play

About this Book

In several versions of ancient mythology, the spider is the creator of the universe, a weaver of reality, a goddess that has built an intricate web to support the story of life. In this collection, Patrick Hicks explores how we are born into history, how we spin our stories and struggle against failure, and also how throwaway moments can shimmer with unexpected beauty. Our lives and the lives of the dead are threaded together, they form an intricate pattern of love, loss, ancestry, and home. By teasing out these delicate intersections, Hicks explores how we are connected to the world around us.

Author Biography

Patrick Hicks is a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States, as well as Writer-in-Residence at Augustana College. His work has appeared in scores of international publications including, Ploughshares, The Utne Reader, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter, Cimarron Review, Nimrod, and many others. He is the author of Travelling Through History (2005), Draglines (2006), and The Kiss that Saved My Life (2007). Several poems from Finding The Gossamer have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Aside from being a Visiting Fellow at Oxford and winning a variety of grants to support his work, he has lived in Northern Ireland, England, Germany, and Spain. He currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he enjoys thunderstorms rolling across the prairie.

Read a sample from this book

Travelling Through a Weightless Battlefield

Germany slides beneath the cocked wing
of our plane and from this height
of sixty years, I am reminded of
the venom that boiled below.
Ghostly bombers flank our 747 and,
as my fellow passengers sip their wine
and adjust their headsets, I hear
the propellers of the past, I watch
the bomb-doors crank open to expose
iron tumours that fall like peppercorn seeds.
Savage flowers burst up from the land,
black flak cracks at planes,
airmen fall like fleas through the gelid sky,
their silk parachutes bubble with fire.

In this airspace, moving through
forgotten battlefields, my dinner arrives
on a narrow plastic plate.
I reach for my red wine,
a child whimpers with boredom, and
as the in-flight movie begins,
the shades are drawn down.

Outside, our engines rumble on.


These finely wrought lyrics are focused on the family - in Ireland, Canada, the United States, and in-transit- to reveal origins, maps, anxieties, and coincidences. Hicks recovers from time desires, loves, and the moist mother tongues of the dispersed. Hicks searches through literary history for those he seeks to follow - W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Brian Moore in particular. This is a singularly impressive first collection - allusive, engaging, exciting.

Eamonn Wall, author of The Crosses, Refuge at DeSoto Bend, and
From the Sin-é Café to the Black Hills

The poems of Patrick Hicks brim with the confluence of Irish, American, and personal history.

Daniel Tobin, author of Second Things, The Narrows,
 and Passage to the Center

These poems come out of real, actual, lived experiences, a rare thing these days. Hicks seems to have absorbed the work of some of the best poets in that same vein in the past half century: Theodore Roethke, Robinson Jeffers, James Dickey, Seamus Heaney, to name a few. What I find remarkable about Hicks' poems in this collection is that they can simultaneously accommodate not only personal but national, international, and even evolutionary phenomena. ... Hicks is the kind of poet I go for: straight-forward, clear, tough-minded, knowledgeable, accessible, memorable. He has experienced much in his young life; he has taken the time to inform himself on the facts of history and science; and he writes with insight, power, and passion.

David Allan Evans, poet laureate of South Dakota

Patrick Hicks takes us to many places, among them Barcelona, Berlin, and Belfast, as he reflects upon the mystery of existence, of what it means to be alive where the 'poisonous ghosts of history' challenge and haunt us. I admire the variety of subjects that the poems reflect - regret and wonder, concern and disdain, compassion and hope. The voice in these poems is honest and recognizable. It wants what most of us want - to find meaningful identification with the past no less than the present. Carrying history on his back like a knapsack, and aware of the vagaries of chance, Hicks looks to what, for him, finally matters: one person loving another.

William Kloefkorn, poet laureate of Nebraska

Patrick Hicks writes poems of personal history, social history, world history. It is, I think, his way of redrawing the map of our human hearts.

Richard Jones, editor of Poetry East, author of Country of Air, A Perfect Time, and The Blessing

His words, these fragile draglines, make sense of past and present chaos. Tenderly, inexorably, he reveals the world through his eyes and words... I like the delicate touch evident in Hicks' poems. Regardless of topic, Hicks demonstrates the innate compassion present in the human spirit. He addresses human concerns and sorrows, but leaves the reader oddly comforted in the process.

Midwest Book Review

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