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To Keep Time
Joseph Massey




Omnidawn
2014 • 92 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - Nature / Poetry of Place

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-97-1



“At certain points, he departs from his observations of the aural and the visible, struggling to reach for some insight into the stillness before it... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Spare, vivid lyrics on the microclimate of coastal California

Joseph Massey’s third collection, To Keep Time, limns the microclimate of coastal Humboldt County, California. These poems live where modern life—radio static, a space heater, traffic—collides with the so-called natural world. With spare, vivid imagery, Massey builds brilliantly on concerns familiar to readers of his earlier works. Here “The near-silence / rattles me // to attention;” here the vagaries of language itself—what’s been left out as much as what’s been written in—penetrate the heart of these stealthy, aching poems. To Keep Time stops the world’s chatter for a moment and listens to its loneliness and longing, and hears the grace in the relentlessness of days.

Reviews / Endorsements

"At certain points, he departs from his observations of the aural and the visible, struggling to reach for some insight into the stillness before it “re-/ coils into noise” and is drowned out in the loud racket of the mind. These moments of vulnerability blur the lines between Massey’s inner anxiety and the calm of the immediate environment, providing an element of fragility and sophistication to his small, glinting pieces. As he alternates between the sounds and sights of Humboldt County, Massey encounters the way “Mind/ mirrors/ that surface,/ shape,/ the moment/ I imagine/ if I thought/ far enough/ I’d leave my/ face.”” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The shining sliver of cellophane litter, for me, bears as much weight, aesthetically, as any flower in bloom.”—Cosmo Spinosa and  Housten Donham, Open House

“All of the poems… radiate a minimalist beauty and leave the reader with a heightened appreciation of the interplay between silence and the poetry which interrupts that silence.”—Sonja James, The Journal

Massey’s images are so clear, so lucid, so adamantly, palpably there, that you begin to wonder if this young man isn’t, in fact, a walking 3D camera. But the wonder of it is, it isn’t merely the images that so astonish: he’s got what I call the ‘Niedecker knack,’ the capacity to bring sharp linguistic play to an éclat of exquisite clarity, precision to a blossoming of speech, transcendence to a piece of string.” —John Olson, author of Larynx Galaxy: Prose Poems

“Silence itself is revealed to be a highly charged and active field, “Silence hums.” So does this book.”—Tom Thompson's Periodic Recess

“[Joseph Massey] is a student of surroundings as well as of sources; of climates and of angles; of captured moments, kept time.”—Alexander at OPEN BOOKS



JOSEPH MASSEY lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and is the author of Areas of Fog and At the Point, and a dozen chapbooks. His work has appeared in various journals, including The Nation, American Poet, Verse; and in the anthologies Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, and Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation.



Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:32:59 -0500