The End of Dreams
Louisiana State University Press, Cloth & Paper, 2006, 64 pp
Finalist for the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize.
Finalist for the 2007 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.
From the Publisher:
The End of Dreams is a celebration of the human capacity for adaptation amid the cycles of loss and renewal that characterize our intimate lives. Floyd Skloot mixes dramatic monologue with meditative and narrative verse in poems that explore family experiences, the lives of artists, historical crisis, love, nature, illness, and sudden, unpredictable change. The poet describes moments rich in complexity: when a grandfather's intentional loss at cards is really a victory of love; when Flannery O'Connor's waxing and waning illness becomes a merciful strengthening of her faith in death and resurrection; when dreams and reality merge for a man in his final seconds of life. Musical, sometimes funny, sometimes deeply poignant, twining nostalgia with a hard-earned acceptance of the present, these accessible, emotional poems probe the power of our transformative imagination.
Quotes from reviews of the book:
"Poet, essayist, and memoirist Skloot writes about family matters, the mysterious realm of long-term illness, the natural world, and the nature of art in refulgent and compelling poems, finely constructed vignettes that celebrate life while harboring bracing visions of death. Built of homey details, carefully plotted, and punctuated with whirls of synesthesia, Skloot's supple lyrics ascend into grandeur like birds launching off a branch. . . . Skloot figures the calculus of generations, balancing what is inherited with what is idiosyncratic, then extracts himself from blood ties to pay homage to artists who have translated suffering into radiance, among them Flannery O'Connor and Raoul Dufy. Dreams waft through stanzas like smoke, hinting at hidden dimensions of consciousness, while each word is nestled in its place like an egg in a nest, full of life yet emblematic of life's fragility." —Donna Seaman, Booklist
"These are not poems steeped in grief. Instead, Skloot brings a kind of wonder to the vagaries of the mind and life." —B. T. Shaw, The Oregonian
"Skloot's poetry has matured and now comes to us with a distinctive thumbprint on every line. To be more confident about nature, after living in the midst of Oregonian nature for some years, has also made him more confident about life. His essays on illness give us a man who brings large doses of common sense and even humor to what was surely a bad patch; but his poems are now verging very closely toward that rare commodity we call wisdom." —Sanford Pinsker, Prairie Schooner
"The poems in Floyd Skloot's latest collection, The End of Dreams, are filled with wounds. Almost all of them approach a disturbing boundary, between life and death, or between wakefulness and dream. . . . The weightiness of the wounds explored in these poems does not weigh the reader down. It is as if the limitations, the fault lines, the wounds of life are offered up as an imperfectly-perfect sacrifice, rising up toward Mystery." —Image Magazine
"His lines are measured and rhythmic, and, although he seldom turns overtly to rhyme, they have an inner form that is clear to the ear and tongue when read either silently or aloud, as many of them merit doing. . . . These poems are luminous and transformative. Poem after poem is quietly breathtaking, whether telling of his father's role as a civil defense leader in 'doomsday' drills in the fifties, or writing of Cezanne's experience of light at the end of a misbegotten day. Many of these poems tell wonderful narrative stories, others offer glimpses into the minutiae that make up meaningful lives." —Chris Faatz, PowellsBooks.Blog
"It is a rare contemporary poet who can evoke the tragic emotions – fear, sadness, and pity – who dares to encounter the pain of the human condition without blinking, and without the defenses of formulaic irony. The best of Floyd Skloot's poems (and in The End of Dreams his best are to be found) are courageous, and achingly beautiful." —Daniel Mark Epstein
"In his exquisite fifth book, Floyd Skloot writes of an upside down world. Here a child knows an act of love means, 'losing is winning as a frown/is a smile and a curse is a kiss.' Skloot takes us through air raid drills, the sudden absence of a father, the end of his own 'fathering time,' of the lives of his grandparents, brother, and the alterations of consciousness that signal illness, death, and vision. Then empathically, in the personae of Whitman, Cezanne, J. S. Bach, and other artists, he takes us back in time and brings them forward – to say that we thrive as others fail, and must. In his beautiful and wise new book, readers find solace in Skloot's promise of 'the past made whole' by his passionate acts of art and memory: the 'miracle of the mind's endless life.'" —Hilda Raz
"These poems are luminous, tough, wise and daring, intensely moving. Floyd Skloot is a master of the high-wire act that is poetry." —John Stone