Floyd Skloot, Writer


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Far West

Louisiana State University Press, Paper, 2019

Far West, Floyd's 9th poetry collection, was published by Louisiana State University in October, 2019.

From the Publisher:

Winner of the 2019 L. E. Phillabaum Poetry Award & Finalist for the 2021 Oregon Book Awards, Stafford Hall Award for Poetry

Floyd Skloot's Far West intertwines the past and present, as time alternates between racing and standing still. Crafting poems that confront memory lapses and painful recollections, Skloot traces his moments of purest perception and expression: his wife practicing music, his daughter finding delight in the presence of wildlife, Vladimir Nabokov able to lose himself when playing goalie in a soccer match. A poem about a forgotten word or name can lead to one about a song that refuses to stop playing over and over in our minds, or to an evocation of a long-dead futuristic novelist who comes back from the afterlife to find a world even stranger than any he imagined. In poems that range from traditional forms and short lyrics to longer narratives and free verse, Skloot explores how emotional experiences—memory and forgetting, love and loss, reverie and urgent attention—all come together in our search for coherence and authentic self-expression.

Quotes from reviews of the book:

"Floyd Skloot's new collection, winner of the 2019 L.E. Phillabaum Poetry Award, couldn't be more aptly titled as the poet creates a fully realized otherworld beyond any known geographical location, where time is a soup and recollection elicits altered recognition. We join Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling on a house hunting excursion. Jules Verne visits the Seattle stadium formerly known as Safeco Field and observes the retractable roof: 'He thinks it is like one layer / of heaven pulling back to reveal / a deeper heaven.' The Impressionist painter Frederick Childe Hassam journeys to Cannon Beach.

Amidst these richly imagined poems, we also get a glimpse of Skloot's complex childhood. He writes of his mother ('My mother told me / without quite telling me / that my father wanted me / aborted'), the trauma suffered by a neuro-virus he survived decades ago, the untimely loss of his father and, years later, his beloved brother. Employing straightforward language to render lucid memories, the poems take on the sepia-toned precision of moving photographs. Written with unflinching candidness, this collection surpasses the territory of nostalgia and convinces us that our lost possible selves are still out there someplace living the great unspool of their threads, even if it's only in that most elusive and unchartered dimension – memory." —The Oregonian/OregonLive

"Experience, memory, and language—that holy trinity of our being—enact their dance of meaning in these lucid, thickly-textured narratives and deft sonnets. There's an ontological tenderness about these poems— it doesn't have to do with anything obvious—they're the opposite of sentimental, but their ambition is to acknowledge and transfigure even the fiercest or saddest of personalities—whether they are the poet's distant father and harsh mother, or historical figures (Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling house-hunting by bicycle). Under Skloot's alert scrutiny things, people, and creatures are radiant and mundane at the same time, and the holiness of our ordinary world is profoundly evoked." Gregory Orr, author of The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write and The Blessing

"Floyd Skloot is a maestro of fading plentitude.  Moving through sweeping expanses of geography and imagination, through Central park, Elsinore, Dusseldorf, the Oregon Coast, the afterlife, Far West explores the mystery of what happens in the darkness of the skull and the vulnerability of the brain to time and violence.  Skloot's snapshots of past worlds slow down attention to do the work of real visitation, navigating the precarious relationship between naming and claiming so fluently that it is easy to “believe his steady/song.”” —Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry