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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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The Crossing

ISBN: 9781930781535
Binding: 134
Author: Joseph Fasano
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 11/01/2018

Joseph Fasano's much anticipated fourth book, The Crossing, is his most intimate yet. By turns lamentation and consolation, it confronts grief and gain, always trying, as the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski wrote, "to praise the mutilated world." "Immensity / will only dare to come to you," one poem tells us, "when surrender is ready in your hands." Here are poems that know that to have a self is to be both a witness to history and responsible for it. "History / is only the body trying to become / a story that will outlast it," Fasano writes, and yet these poems also seek the dignity of the individual, a meaningful communion with others in what's common: "As long as love / runs," we read, "it is earthsong; it is wild / to be ridden in its irons / to another world. Another world. This one."

Dorothea Lasky writes, "This is the poet I trust to see the world as it is, quietly writhing around us, like Kafka and Rilke before him."


Joseph Fasano is a writer and educator. He studied mathematics and astrophysics at Harvard University before changing his course of study and earning a degree in philosophy, with a focus on philosophy of language after Wittgenstein. He did his graduate study in poetry at Columbia University, working with Mark Strand, Lucie Brock-Broido, Richard Howard, and others. Beyond his Professorships, Fasano is passionate about developing inclusive learning communities outside the walls of academic institutions. As an educator, his mission is to help each student synthesize diverse fields of study to develop a unique and informed voice, a depth of attention, and a capacity to break free of reductive mindsets. His "Poetry Prompts," originally designed to help children create, have spread around the world, helping millions of people of all ages find their voices through the craft and magic of poetry.

Fasano is the author of two novels: The Swallows of Lunetto (Maudlin House, 2022) and The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing (Platypus Press, 2020), which was named one of the "20 Best Small Press Books of 2020." His books of poetry are The Last Song of the World (forthcoming from BOA Editions, 2024); The Crossing (Cider Press Review, 2018), praised by Ilya Kaminsky for its 'lush drive to live, even in the darkest moments'; Vincent (Cider Press Review, 2015), which Rain Taxi Review hailed as a 'major literary achievement'; Inheritance (Cider Press Review, 2014), a James Laughlin Award nominee; Fugue for Other Hands (2013) , which won the Cider Press Review Book Award and was nominated for the Poets' Prize, 'awarded annually for the best book of verse published by a living American poet two years prior to the award.'

A winner of the RATTLE Poetry Prize, he serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books, and he is the Founder of the Poem for You Series. His writing has appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The Yale Review, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, Boston Review, American Poets, Measure, Tin House, American Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, American Literary Review, Verse Daily, the PEN Poetry Series, the Academy of American Poets' poem-a-day program, and other publications.


"Late in Joseph Fasano's new book, The Crossing, are the lines: 'he knows / you cannot live in two worlds / forever.' In some sense, that is the challenge explored throughout: How does one continue in the face of great loss without denial, or despair, or consoling heavens? Yet, how still to acknowledge a palpable sense of the sacred, the beautiful, and the numinous in a world such as ours? Further, how to accept, if not reconcile, the pull of those two spheres? The first and longest poem, 'The Crossing,' poem weaves together images and stories of a marionette's daughter, an alchemist, the narrator's ailing wife, an injured doe, a pianist, a Vietnam War veteran, a roan horse, nightingales, Job, and more.... The poet's narrative wends in and out—braiding, knotting, fraying—each story with its own music, each adding to the overall polyphony. Among repeated avowals of 'I don't know,' the poet concedes: 'What we have is music and its fading. / What we have is the hymn in us, and no player.' Offering neither bromides nor answers, it is as if the narrator is trying to ground himself, slow down his mind, clear his thoughts, in order to accept and perhaps witness to the mysterious, plangent complexity of life as he has found it. Again and again, the poet calls on us simply to 'Listen.'" - Ralph Hamilton

"This is the poet I trust to see the world as it is, quietly writhing around us, like Kafka and Rilke before him." - Dorothea Lasky

"Like Wagner and Mahler, preternaturally rich." - Richard Howard

"As wild and unpredictable as the best of Lorca." - Lois P. Jones

"Fasano makes pain almost bearable with the beauty of his language, the wild leaps of his metaphors." - Linda Pastan