cover image Father’s Day

Father’s Day

Matthew Zapruder. Copper Canyon, $17 (96p) ISBN 978-1-55659-578-3

In his poignant fifth collection, Zapruder (Sun Bear) recounts collisions of hope and despair, privilege and privation, and of finding joy on the precipice of disaster. As the title suggests, fatherhood is an overarching theme, an experience that, for Zapruder, came with the wrinkle of having a neurodiverse child: “our son who/ remembers every song/ would not speak like/ all the others/ moving deeper into/ places we could not go.” But like any father, the poet is moved to wonder at every detail that makes his son a unique being. Throughout, he addresses and alludes to fellow poets, living and dead, recalling James Tate’s penchant for perambulating “the little town checking up/ on nothing saying behave/ thyself to squirrels outside.” Though he will never become a “master of industry,” he invokes Ginsberg to “promise/ I will put/ whatever is queer/ in my shoulder/ to the infamous wheel.” Zapruder both elevates poetry and resents its elevation, imagining the afterlife as an awful poetry reading, and describing one of his poems as “painfully hilarious in its sad failure.” Imbued with this self-awareness, he presents powerfully nuanced and vivid verse about the limitations of poetry to enact meaningful change in a world spiraling into callousness; yet despite poetry’s supposed constraints, Zapruder’s verse offers solace and an invaluable blueprint for empathy. (Sept.)