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.

191st Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 191st Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Todd Swift’s When All My Disappointments Came At Once:

Hunting Party (page 84)

A heart is sacred, a wounded hart;
Outrun the symbol in the wood.

Pluck out the arrows.  The head
Enters after having been shot through

The air, in order to hunt and halt
The glorious animal that will be eaten;

Flesh parts from pelt; horns rise on walls.
The hall hums with music's knowing.

This is the festival in the glade,
The pump-pump of the love brigade,

That process known as seasonal,
The turn from rose to worm, grass to spade.

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #197

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the Mailbox Monday blog.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The New Arcana by John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris, which I received for review from the poets.

THE NEW ARCANA is a multi-genre extravaganza featuring verse, fiction, mock journalism and academic writing, drama, and art. Both referencing and transcending various literary precedents, the book is a pronouncement for the 21st Century, an exploration of and commentary on the fast-paced and mercurial nature of life in the 2000s. Co-written by poets John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris, the book presents a compelling, jazz-like, and satirical style, a third voice born from the mingling of two distinct individual voices. THE NEW ARCANA is a memorable literary statement—a manifesto for our time—as well as a proclamation regarding the transformative qualities of true collaboration.

2.  Judging a Book by its Lover by Lauren Leto, which I received for review from HarperCollins.

Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take on Infinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who’s pontificating on Cormac McCarthy’s “recurring road narratives”? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight?

For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto’s Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of—and inspired homage to—the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them.

3.  When All My Disappointments Came at Once by Todd Swift for review from Tightrope Books.

This poetry collection explores the journey of recovery from depression after a man’s diagnosis for extreme male infertility. Dreams are destroyed and slowly rebuilt with the help of a loving wife and the healing force of the poetic art. As it touches on the topics of childlessness and mental health from a male perspective, this compilation will appeal to a wide readership.

What did you receive?