When All My Disappointments Came at Once by Todd Swift

When All My Disappointments Came at Once by Todd Swift, published by Tightrope Books, are poems about a series of mid-life crisis in literature and throughout history, with some less grandiose crises in the mix.  There are new takes on the midlife crisis, with the narrator in “The Shelf” trying to take on the life of another through their writing, only to find the words fit falsely and do not ring true.  But in others, like “Michael Kohlhaas,” reference the vengeful exploits that go off of the deep end to the point that the narrator cannot be brought back from the brink.  With a wide breadth of topics, Swift covers a lot of historic and emotional ground in his poems, though clearly some of these poems will require additional research into some of the historic and literary elements referenced, especially if they are not familiar.

From "In Memory of F.T. Prince" (page 15)

Desire ages, ages hardly at all,
Edges, like those of a book,
Curled at the beach, where waves,
Sent by the summer, brush

The salt away, finely-combed,
And it is homosexual love
That holds us in its palm,
That cuts and dries the hair

Beautifully rendered, Swift harkens to the original poem written by Prince about soldiers bathing in a river during World War II, but he also takes a new twist on the scene, pinpointing the desire that can rise up when all that surrounds you is death. Where is the beauty, where is the love — you find it where you can, at least to a certain extent. While some of these poems are dark and harrowing, others are sad, suspenseful, and heart-pounding as Swift takes readers on a journey through several devastating events in history and literature.

However, there are moments in the collection where Swift shows his humor, like using two rhyming lines in “Hunting Party” to make the celebratory scene after the hunt more comical, poking fun at the midlife crisis aspect depicted in the poem. In others, there is a ray of hope even as the narrator loses faith in God. These poems have a wide range of perspectives to offer, and Swift is masterful in some poems and cryptic in others. When All My Disappointments Came at Once by Todd Swift is an interesting examination of midlife crises, the emotions tied to that, and the rays of hope and comedy that can emerge from those incidents.

About the Poet:

Dr. Todd Swift is Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing, at Kingston University, London. He is Director and Editor of new small press Eyewear Publishing. Published by the age of 18 in The Fiddlehead, Swift is the prolific author of eight collections of poetry and many more pamphlets. He is editor or co-editor of a dozen anthologies, most recently Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam, with a preamble from David Lehman. His poems have appeared in numerous international publications, such as Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Review (London), and The Globe and Mail (Toronto). He has been Oxfam’s poet-in-residence, based in Marylebone, since 2004. His widely-read blog, Eyewear, has been archived by The British Library.

Please click on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour image for today’s tour stop:

This is my 7th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.



This is my 18th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.


  1. This sounds like an interesting collection. I may have to borrow it from you.