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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Human Abstract

ISBN: 9781734691139
Binding: Paperback
Author: Karl Parker
Pages: 226
Trim: 5.5 x 8 inches
Published: 12/15/2022

In January 2015, Karl found himself writing a series of poems that marked a distinct stylistic departure from his previous writing. A year-and-a-half after beginning the project, he bundled the poems together under the title Human Abstract, and, after whittling the collection down, he found himself with a nearly 200-page manuscript. Before his death in Sept. 2019, he expressed a clear wish that these poems might reach a wider public.

Night-utterances written in the hours before dawn, Human Abstract, chronicles the passage from winter to spring, and explores the implicit mystery of what it is to be a human in time, capable of humor and longing, desire and violence: gone in a flash. The poems are a reflection of life, breathing, aching to be read.


Karl Parker received an B.A. and a B.Phil from University of Pittsburgh in 1994 and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the New School in 2004; he was a PhD candidate (ABD) in English at Cornell University where he received his M.A. in 2001. He taught literature and creative writing at Cornell, Hunter College, Auburn State Correctional Facility, Hobart & William Smith Colleges (where he also served as Poetry Editor of the Seneca Review for five years), Syracuse University, and the Downtown Writer's Center in Syracuse, NY.

His first book of poems, Personationskin, was published by NoTell Books in 2009. He also released two chapbooks, Harmstorm (2006, Lame House Press) and Outsides (1994, self-published with a grant from the University of Pittsburgh). Individual poems appeared in such places as Stone Canoe, Volt Magazine, S/tick, Spoon River, and Seneca Review.


"This book of nocturnes, or 'interspace occasions,' is Karl Parker's final blessing and goodbye. His buoyant injury has opened a hillside in the night. For Parker the human wound is at once a midden and a garden. Read him and miss him. Help the dead blossom. It is 'Your turn to turn the lever on the light.'" - Gabriel Gudding

"Parker's restless meditations, a carpe diem carved from night, are attuned to each instant of being. This intense mindfulness yields a vision of time, interiority, and solitude that is staggering in its cumulative reach. The poems are a fluid testimony of what it is to be alive in a book that seems alive itself, unfolding freshly with each rereading. Few poets are capable of conveying a sense of life's transient dearness, but in lines lacerated by silence Karl Parker wrote his soul. Only the greatest art offers such hypnotizing authenticity and earned authority." - Alice Fulton

"The book was opened as if afraid, but it offered the safety of a movie in a dark house. No one there but 'the human abstract' as chairs without an I in them. And so filled with light as in Danish paintings. Squares made by hand and sun. Someone made these poems for us. Beautiful." - Fanny Howe

"Poems that change our breath as we fall under the poet's spell. Each of us reading these pages aloud proves Karl Parker is alive in the quiet heart of this rapacious planet. Get everyone together to read his description of the path ahead, 'The world did a mean rhumba, mad as hell / Turned out everyone was the town fool.'" - CAConrad