Accepting the Disaster Poems

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/21/2015
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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One of The New York Times' 10 Favorite Poetry Books of 2014

An astonishing new collection from one of our finest emerging poets

A shark's tooth, the shape-shifting cloud drifting from a smokestack, the smoke detectors that hang, ominous but disregarded, overhead--very little escapes the watchful eye of Joshua Mehigan. The poems in Accepting the Disaster range from lyric miniatures like "The Crossroads," a six-line sketch of an accident scene, to "The Orange Bottle," an expansive narrative page-turner whose main character suffers a psychotic episode after quitting medication. Mehigan blends the naturalistic milieu of such great chroniclers of American life as Stephen Crane and Studs Terkel with the cinematic menace and wonder of Fritz Lang. Balanced by the music of his verse, this unusual combination brings an eerie resonance to the real lives and institutions it evokes.
These poems capture with equal tact the sinister quiet of a deserted Main Street, the tragic grandiosity of Michael Jackson, the loneliness of a self-loathing professor, the din of a cement factory, and the saving grandeur of the natural world. This much-anticipated second collection is the work of a nearly unrivaled craftsman, whose first book was called by Poetry "a work of some poise and finish, by turns delicate and robust."

Author Biography

Joshua Mehigan’s first book, The Optimist, was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. His poems have appeared in many periodicals, including The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry, where he has been a frequent contributor of poems and essays. His writing has also been featured in Poetry Daily and The Writer’s Almanac, and in numerous anthologies. He is the recent recipient of Poetry magazine’s Editor’s Prize for Feature Article and of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mehigan lives in New York City.

Table of Contents



The Smokestack

Fire Safety

The Sponge

The Crossroads

The Cement Plant

The Hill

Joe Pipe

The Forecast

Down in the Valley

The Fair

Work Song


On the Way to Church School

Sad Stories

Father Birmingham

The Bowl

At Home


Epitaph Carved on a Shin Bone

Cold Turkey

The Dream Job


How Strange, How Sweet

Heard at the Men’s Mission


The Polling Place

The Professor

The Library

The Orange Bottle

The News

The Payphone

The Chemist

Believe It


Accepting the Disaster

Shark’s Tooth

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