In this knock-out collection, Major Jackson savours the complexity between perception and reality, the body and desire, accountability and judgment.
Inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus, Major Jackson’s fifth volume subtly configures the poet as “absurd hero” and plunges headfirst into a search for stable ground in an unstable world. We follow Jackson’s restless, vulnerable speaker as he ponders creation in the face of meaninglessness, chronicles an increasingly technological world, and the difficulty of social and political unity, probes a failed marriage and grieves his lost mother with a stunning, lucid lyricism.
The arc of a man emerges; he bravely confronts his past, including his betrayals and his mistakes, and questions who he is as a father, as a husband, as a son and as a poet. With intense musicality and verve, The Absurd Man also faces outward, finding refuge in intellectual and sensuous passions. At once melancholic and jubilant, Jackson considers the journey of humanity, with all its foibles, as a sacred pattern of discovery reconciled by art and the imagination.
"Erudite… Moments of startling linguistic play interrupt Jackson's elegant semiformal style... [The Absurd Man] bring[s] us back to an existential truth that only poetry's fierce tenderness can offer." — Sandra Simonds, The New York Times Book Review
"I want to read Major Jackson’s The Absurd Man, which came out last year." — The book I'm looking forward to by Simon Armitage, The Times