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Chance Divine
Jeffrey Skinner

Oberlin College Press
2017 • 88 pp. 6 x 9"

$16.95 Paperback, 978-0-9973355-1-4

Winner of the 2016 FIELD Poetry Prize

Chance Divine explores the broadest territory possible, from the origins of the universe to the speculative, precarious future. Bookended by the dazzling prose poem sequences called “Genesis” and “Revelation,” Jeffrey Skinner’s new collection is equally grounded in the contemporary science of photons, black holes, and climate change and the uncanny mythology of celestial talk shows, shifting identities, angels, and politicians. Visionary, wildly unpredictable, and often unsettlingly funny, this is a book that matters.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Jeffrey Skinner has a metaphysical thirst so large and fierce and energetic that it can only slake itself in the ocean of language. And that is what it does in these amazing poems, which are amazing both for their complexity and sophistication and their buoyant clarity and immediacy."—Vijay Seshadri

"Jeffrey Skinner shatters our narratives and then rearranges them with stunning imagination and wisdom. His poems are part physics, philosophy, religion, and part master storytelling—but they’re all poetry. Here, creation is a wrestling act between the sublime and the everyday. Or it’s a non-sequitur leaping from idea to idea. In the final section, “Revelation,” Skinner is a contemporary Dante confronting death, dare I say experiencing death, in a multidimensional tour-de-force that left me dazed and grateful. It is rare and exciting to come across a book this original, this alive, this knowing. These poems aren’t about—they simply are—and they are what poems are meant to be—Chance Divine."—Anne Marie Macari

"From its opening poem, “Genesis,” to its closing poem, “Revelation,” Jeffrey Skinner’s Chance Divine swings between blasphemy and reverence, playfulness and dark seriousness, performance and intimacy, the cerebral and the visceral. Inside these arcs we find wild and often visionary arrivals at self-understanding and -assessment—sometimes through razor-sharp observation of the external world, sometimes through a probing of the interiors of memory and emotion. This is a dizzying, singular, and utterly masterful collection."—Wayne Miller

From the Book:


Did you get what you wanted?
Mass of unconnected wires
Plank extending from flatbed, red flag
Little gods of approximation

Smack of flesh on flesh
I move my chair for a different view
If only I had sleek Europe!
Not just plugging like into like

Belief also chooses
A soul made of many tiny robots
Sky atilt, trees piled bottom left
Short-shorts with cuffed hems

Moral to the smallest button
I have what I want & will, always


Winner of the FIELD Poetry Prize (2016)

JEFFREY SKINNER is the author of six previous books of poetry, most recently Glaciology (2013), winner of the Crab Orchard Open Competition Award; Salt Water Amnesia (2005); and Gender Studies (2002). The winner of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, he served as the June 2015 Artist in Residence at the CERN Particle Accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2015 he was awarded one of eight American Academy of Arts & Letters Awards for exceptional accomplishment in writing. He and his wife Sarah Gorham cofounded Sarabande Books, for which he serves as president of the board of directors and editorial consultant. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:49:42 -0500