cover image Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney

Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney

Karl Tierney. Sibling Rivalry, $18 trade paper (126p) ISBN 978-1-943977-68-0

The expansive, posthumous debut from Tierney (1956–1995) considers the myriad ways that everyday experience is politically charged. “It’s not easy to propel one’s spirit through this/ nocturnal society,” he warns, as he documents and humanizes the AIDS crisis. “You won’t have to think yourself a victim,” he writes, “of talentless pretty-/ boy actors who become Presidents after losing their looks.” Though unified by their revolutionary sensibility, the poems in this historically significant volume broach an impressive array of challenging subjects, among them death, acts of God, and vanity. This capacious sensibility allows him to achieve a complex portrait of the community for which he advocates: “Words like lesion, bile, pneumocystis have battled and won over your tongue,” he writes in “After His Death.” Much of the work proves as formally conservative as it is groundbreaking in its content, and this pairing of sensibilities proves highly readable. “I lose myself in conforming,” Tierney writes, as though reflecting on the docile presentation of these politically charged narratives. This book provides an overdue introduction to an important voice in American poetry. (Oct.)