March 14, 2018 at 2:55 pm

‘Losers Dream On’ in Halliday’s New Book of Poems

Dr. Mark Halliday

Dr. Mark Halliday

Dr. Mark Halliday’s new book of poems, Losers Dream On, has recently been published with the University of Chicago Press.

Halliday, Professor of English at Ohio University, says the poems in this new collection “keep finding tension—sometimes comic, sometimes pathetic, sometimes desperate—between the inevitability of losing in life and the human compulsion to dream of victory, glory, joy, rescue, and revelation.”

As its title indicates, one of the book’s primary themes is loss of all kinds and in all aspects of our lives.

“We are all losing all the time,” Halliday explains. “We’re losing our lives—day by day. And each of us is losing any number of connections and comforts and clarities that once existed in our past. We are losing planet Earth as a hospitable habitat, due to our idiocy about burning fossil fuels. In the United States presently, it seems as if we may be losing our democracy. Some of all this losing is inevitable; some of it is caused or intensified by our egocentrism and greed. Meanwhile, there is courage and a sort of nutty beauty in the way we all keep dreaming.”

Losers Dream On book cover, Black and white book cover showing a large room, tablesThe book, Halliday’s seventh collection of poems, has received excellent reviews and advanced praise.

Tony Hoagland remarks, “[Halliday’s] rich new collection […] holds its own with the high standard of his best work.”

Kevin Prufer concurs, noting, “Witty, exciting, and wide-awake, Halliday is one of the best poets at work in America today.”

Enthusiastic Praise for the Collection

Halliday’s reviewers have especially praised Halliday’s incisive eye and inventive diction, as well as his and his exploration of loss as a highlight of the collection.

Renowned poet Rosanna Warren calls Losers Dream On “A remarkable book,” noting that the “poems are fully awake, practicing vivisection on their own delusions, complacencies, and sublimities, carving into the tissue of language. […] Yet its wit reveals the timeless: sorrow for a dying father, a lost wife, and the core recognition of our ‘dustitude.’

Interrogating ‘The Sheer Mystery of Time’

Halliday pushes these new poems in particular to “locate […] balance in politics (in a few poems) and in romantic relationships and in one’s own view of personal history and in the sheer mystery of time always pushing us along.”

Halliday is the author of Thresherphobe (University of Chicago Press, 2013), Keep This Forever (Tupelo Press, 2008), Jab (University of Chicago Press, 2002), Selfwolf (University of Chicago, 1999), Tasker Street (University of Massachusetts, 1992; Juniper Prize winner), and Little Star (William Morrow, 1987; National Poetry Series selection), as well as two books of criticism, The Sighted Singer, co-authored with Allen Grossman (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), and Stevens and the Interpersonal (Princeton, 1991). He also is associate editor of New Ohio Review.

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