Library of the Mind: New & Selected Poems
Page Count: 160
Publication Date: Thursday, March 28, 2019
Cover Artwork: The Long Room, Trinity College, Dublin
About this Book
“For readers new to the work of Patrick Hicks, Library of the Mind is a phenomenal primer on his singular voice and vision. They will discover a writer who is tender-hearted, clear-headed, deeply human. For long-time fans like myself, this collection offers one poet’s life-long meditation and interior monologue with the world—along with new poems that gesture toward the restless and loved world into which Hicks continues to write his way. This is a poet with a wide angle of vision, one that travels experiential time zones with grace and ease, exploring the interconnected nature of the past, present, and yet-to-be—all of it drafted with a deft hand, and a capacious heart.”
author of Here, Bullet and My Life as a Foreign Country
“Library of the Mind contains brilliant, powerful, intelligent poems that span decades and continents. They take us on both interior and exterior journeys, providing us with evocative portraits of love and family and place … this book is one to read again and again. What an impressive treasure this is.”
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
American Book Award winner
“I’ve been reading Patrick Hicks's lovely poems for years, and Library of the Mind gathers the very best of those years. And, too, with the inclusion of an ample selection of new work, Hicks extends his poetic reach. Always careful, always sure and gentle, Hicks delves here into history, his own and that of the nation, and hauls up worry and fear and persistence in the face of it all, the very words we need to hear, though they ‘flutter away, / like leaves on a river of wind.’”
author of Fall Back Down When I Die and When We Were Birds
“Reading straight through Patrick Hicks’s new book, Library of the Mind, is like reading a trans-Atlantic memoir, noticing how the style changes along the way and how the narrative voice expands as the story (and the family) grows. It is pure pleasure to wander through Patrick Hicks’s Library, which is also an atlas of London, a compendium of knowledge on various subjects including adoption, a portrait of a “beautiful boy,” and a memento mori. In the title poem, the speaker wonders if we ‘ascend into a library’ when we die; Patrick’s book surely makes us hope it is so.”
author of Naming the Stars and Modern Love & Other Myths
Previous Praise for Patrick Hicks
“This is a vividly detailed, terrifying, convincing, and completely spellbinding story rooted in those murderous events we now call the Holocaust. [. . .] Patrick Hicks has accomplished a very difficult literary task. He has given a believable and fresh and original face to barbarism. What a fine book this is.”
author of The Things They Carried, Winner of the National Book Award
“In The Commandant of Lubizec, Patrick Hicks imagines the unimaginable and thus gives us a glimpse into the terrible complexity of the human heart. This is a fascinating and important book.”
—Robert Olen Butler
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Fiction at its highest register—creating inroads into the past so that we might hear those murdered in the extermination camps of the Holocaust, so that we might better recognize the world we have inherited. Profound and trenchant, The Commandant of Lubizec is a brave and unflinching book. It is a stunning literary debut. I urge you to read it before it’s made into a film.”
author of Here, Bullet and My Life as a Foreign Country
“Hicks’ prose is clear and unflinching [. . .] Thought-provoking and gut-wrenchingly powerful.”
“The fictional presentation here measures up to any factual account of the Holocaust this reviewer has ever read. Highly recommended, especially for general readers who wish to know more about this unspeakable chapter of human history. Even specialists will be taken in by its human-interest dimension.”
“The stories in Patrick Hicks’ The Collector of Names haunt me the way that Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ haunts me. And for the same reason: the precision of the evocation of our mortality, set against the different music of our lives.”
author of Song of Napalm, winner of the Lanan Literary Award in Poetry
“Out of the cooling ashes of Holocaust history, Patrick Hicks manages to break our hearts with a story we thought we already knew. The Commandant of Lubizec is profound, provocative, and profane in all the best ways. While reading The Commandant of Lubizec, one question kept running through my mind: ‘Was it really this bad?’ Through his all-too-real fiction, Patrick Hicks convinces me that, sadly, the answer is ‘Yes.’ The Commandant of Lubizec is important and unforgettable.”
author of Fobbit and Brave Deeds
“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.”
author of A Perfect Time and Stranger on Earth
“From South Korea to South Dakota, these touching poems offer an accurate window into the experience of fatherhood and adoption. The son’s bright light shines on each and every page, and just as Hicks hopes his son will one day find ‘the galaxy widening before him,’ readers of this book will discover the same: a galaxy in the poet’s love for his son. These poems, this poet, this son—treasures that will expand your heart.”
author of Scar and Flower
Patrick Hicks is the author of The Collector of Names, Adoptable, and This London—he also wrote the critically and popularly acclaimed novel, The Commandant of Lubizec. He has been published widely in some of the most vital literary journals in North America and his poetry has appeared on NPR, The PBS NewsHour, and American Life in Poetry. He has been a finalist for an Emmy and he has received grants and fellowships from the Bush Artist Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. A dual-citizen of Ireland and America, he is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University as well as a faculty member at the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. When not writing and teaching, he is the host of the radio show, Poetry from Studio 47.
Read a sample from this book
on the night my internationally adopted son arrived
After we picked you up at the Omaha airport,
we clamped you into a new car seat
and listened to you yowl
beneath the streetlights of Nebraska.
Our hotel suite was plump with toys,
ready, we hoped, to soothe you into America.
But for a solid hour you watched the door,
shrieking, Umma, the Korean word for mother.
Once or twice you glanced back at us
and, in this netherworld where a door home
had slammed shut forever, your terrified eyes
paced between the past and the future.
Umma, you screamed. Umma!
But your foster mother back in Seoul never appeared.
Your new mother and I lay on the bed,
cooing your birth name,
until, at last, you collapsed into our arms.
In time, even terror must yield to sleep.
Meet & Eat
after Gary Snyder
At the butcher’s counter,
when we stand before rows of wild salmon,
bratwurst, and stacked butterfish,
I watch you press against the glass—
your eyes swimming over crushed ice
as you consider bivalves, flanks of mutton, and ribs.
You pace before this altar of food,
furrowing your brow, trying to decide which animal
you want to consume for our tradition, “meet & eat.”
Rabbit and lobster, snow crab and pheasant,
octopus, walleye, oyster, and beef heart—
they have all entered your body, cell by cell.
After you’ve made your choice,
the flesh is wrapped in a cocoon of wax paper,
and we return home, thinking of transformation.
But before we click on the oven,
we open books to learn about hatching,
growth, movement, and prey.
We think of teeth, hooves, swishing fins,
and tongues tufting sweetgrass—
the life, in short, of the animal waiting in our fridge.
Only then do we peel away the butcher’s paper
to marvel at the architecture of bone or shell,
the hinges of movement, now stilled.
We offer a toast—
I with fermented grapes,
you with cow’s milk infused with cocoa beans.
And then, ah, the saucepan and the lemons come out,
the blood of tomatoes, the summer downpour
of butter sizzling in a pan, the fat of olives.
I stand next to the biosphere of your being,
thinking of the man you are becoming,
and we take turns flipping, jabbing, spicing.
Once the flesh has browned,
and the silverware set out like compass needles,
we move to the table, scooch up our chairs, and stare
at what will soon be gone.
Teaching the History of the Third Reich to Ninth Graders
—after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia
Because I am a guest speaker,
they lean in when I say such words
as Untermensch, Aryan, and Shoah.
I talk about how the bedrock of democracy
was dynamited by jackbooted thugs,
how these men raised the gallows of their arms,
and marched through the streets with brass knuckles and song.
I teach them the word Lüggenpresse, the lying press,
and explain how the National Socialists
used this phrase to erase facts with the acid of hate.
I talk about the Nuremberg Laws, broken glass, and blood.
“It happened fast,” I say, staring at the American flag.
A train, somewhere in the distance, bleats out at a crossing—
there is the sound of heavy freight clacking,
it is a metronome, or something like the ticking of a bomb.
I stare at these ninth graders who are just beginning
to author the long pages of their lives.
They are fifteen, as old as Anne Frank happened to be
when the door of her attic world was kicked open
and all that had once been safely locked outside,
came pouring in.
Copyright © Patrick Hicks 2019