With In Which We See Our Selves, Eric Torgersen begins with the formal structure of the ghazal as popularized by Agha Shahid Ali and unapologetically makes a more American thing of it, arguing in his Afterword that this transformation is as inevitable as what happens when the children of immigrant parents pass through an American junior high school: not everyone is pleased with the result. “I’ve tried to avoid faux-Eastern themes and tones,” he writes. Fluently metrical and effortlessly rhymed, at times in short, hard-hitting lines with refrains as brief as a single word, these poems leap off the page with speech as American as this: My gang all quit when I didn’t split the take right. We crashed and burned when I didn’t hit the brake right. (Click the cover photo to order from Mayapple Press)
Eric Torgersen was born in Melville, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. Since retiring, Eric has volunteered for the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. He enjoys fishing and foraging for wild mushrooms. He is available for workshops and readings.
Mr. Torgersen is presently serving a two-year term as Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan.
The meadowlark, belting his song from a post on this book’s cover, is recognized across the country as a harbinger of spring. Enlivening the ambiance of this poetry collection, familiar birds represent the character and mood of its four sections: noisy jays, melodious wrens, steadfast robins, tranquil swans. While birds populate many of the poems, hardly more than a handful have birds as their subjects. The poems’ subjects derive from wide ranging personal experiences often narrated as dramatic situations, usually with something emotionally important at stake. Settings are urban and rural, delineated in finely tuned sensuous detail. Some poems are sonorously lyrical, others ironic or assertive.
“Publication of Edward Morin’s The Bold News of Birdcalls is good news not just for birders and other celebrants of the natural world, but for all poetry lovers. I love Ed Morin’s sense of place; he is a real Michigan bard, and his evocation of many familiar Michigan places amounts to a North American version of what the Irish call Dinnṡeanċas, “place lore,” the recitation of which is one of poetry’s most ancient and revered obligations. All this is accomplished with human warmth and a rare sense of empathy.” — Richard Tillinghast, author of twelve books of poetry and five of creative nonfiction, most recently Journeys into the Mind of the World: A Book of Places.
“Birds flutter, feed, and swoop through these poems: motifs that knit together subjects as closely-observed as a decaying Hallowe’en pumpkin, armed robbery at a paint store where the speaker holds short-lived employment—a narrative that had my heart in my throat!—and elegies for early-passing friends, colleagues and poet-pals from the speaker’s younger years as a university instructor. Academic politics of the corporate university also grip our attention, as does some professorial ogling! The unforgiving contrasts of northern Midwest weather serve both to warm and cool the tonalities of poems filled with self-questioning, forgiveness of others, and compelling human stories.” — Carolyne Wright, author of This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems, and lead editor of Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace