The Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
Ronald Wallace, Series Editor
Winner of the 2015 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, selected by Lucia Perillo
I wear this living skin—
wear it in the sunlight,
in the forest, in the city—
wear it like a suit
of metal, a suit of gauze
Blood Work reveals what happens to the self when the body is compromised by illness. These poems explore the struggle to remain whole in the shadow of Crohn’s disease and to make a home for oneself in the body and in the world.
Matthew Siegel was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He teaches literature and creative writing at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
“Explores how the inner self is affected by Crohn’s disease. . . . Poetry fan or not, this collection is not to be missed.”
—Los Angeles Magazine
“This unexpected book—a genuine contribution to the literature of illness—centers on containment: how we contain our blood, how blood is contained in tubes and vials, how sometimes we do not seem contained by our bodies, and sometimes the body seems to contain nothing, and even how in the face of control or self-reliance leaking away, we might manage to contain ourselves, to feel held, to feel held in place. The deceptive directness of Siegel’s debut is remarkable; in his capable hands, illness reveals how barely contained any human being is, and how we reach, alone and together, for whatever will hold us.
—Mark Doty, author of Sweet Machine
“Siegel’s poems see the world with an immediacy and compassion that could only come from the decision to be vulnerable. It’s such a simple-seeming principle of poetry—yet it is as rare as hen’s teeth. I honor this young poet for the freshness and skill in these poems, his allegiance to the most unpretentious areas of experience, and his courage-teaching heart. Blood Work is a wonderful first book.”
—Tony Hoagland, author of Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Sweet Ruin
“These poems resist the dualities of lyric versus narrative, confessional versus impersonal, real against surreal, formal/improvisational, comic/sad. Matthew Siegel manages to tick off all the boxes at once, while remaining compulsively readable. The trick that he’s pulled off is to make a book that simultaneously tickles you and shakes you by the scruff of your neck.”
—Lucia Perillo, Felix Pollak Prize judge
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LC: 2014030778 PS
76 pp. 5 x 8