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Jeffrey Skinner


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)


Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

“Once I walked a thin rail through a glacier” begins “Shattered Bio,” the first poem in Glaciology, Jeffrey Skinner’s latest collection of poetry. Filled with images that slide into one another in a dreamlike way, from the “squeak of pine trees in a forest” to “pinwheel, the baby’s hand,” the poem provides a precise way of seeing how layers of tenderness and danger melt into one another, inhabiting the same world.

At the center of the book, the eighteen-part title poem “Glaciology” takes readers to the core of misunderstandings as it juxtaposes the work of a glaciologist with fractured language, misread cues, and a literalness that defies conventional explanation. The lives of the glaciers are reported with a careful, scientific language that keeps readers emotionally at bay from the effects of their demise, and the speaker comments, “I consider language / mistreated these days, asked to explain itself / to justify at the same time it bears / meaning, to own up / to creation at the moment of use / only, and only that meaning.”

The third section of the book further explores the tensions of life and death in ways both whimsical—by focusing on a fly, a vintage clock, rabbits, and Poland, among other subjects—and deeply serious. In the long poem “Event Horizon,” Skinner takes readers into an accident and its aftermath, which brushes too close to death. By the end of the book, however, a new focus comes into view with the birth of a grandchild in “All Things Move toward Disorder Except the Newly Created.”


Jeffrey Skinner is the author of the poetry collections Salt Water Amnesia, Late Stars, A Guide to Forgetting, The Company of Heaven, and Gender Studies, and of The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets: A Self-Help Memoir. He is also the editor of the poetry anthologies Last Call: Poems of Alcoholism, Addiction, and Deliverance;and Passing the Word: Poets and Their Mentors. Cofounder of the literary publishing house Sarabande Books, he is an editorial consultant and the president of the board of directors. 



"Glaciology offers up a song that is honest, reflective and deeply moving."—The Rumpus

“Few contemporary poets capture the severe lonelinesses of American manhood with such clarity and cold, honest wit as Jeffrey Skinner. ‘I have been hired by divine gangsters—’ he says, ‘Reason my work is invisible.’ I have admired his taut, strange work in book after book. He’s a pilgrim.”—Tony Hoagland

“Wry and sad, friendly and serious, Skinner’s new work lets the poet and his readers see through, see around, and see past the real losses of adult life. The responsibilities of fatherhood, the force of artistic vocation, the prospect of global climate change, the unique properties of ice, and the burden of mourning all find a way through his sometimes laconic, always clear prose-poem blocks and well-honed free verse lines.”—Stephen Burt, author of Belmont and Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry

In Glaciology, Skinner’s perceptions often seem to balance on the very edge of unbeing. What is broken beckons to us, alive in the lens of his attention, constantly undone and remade in shifting, dazzling patterns. Funny, surprising, verbally sharp, and ruefully aware of danger at every turn, these poems shine with a fierce love of the world.”—Cynthia Huntington, author of Heavenly Bodies

“This book is half elegy, the good kind, the kind that burns as it goes down and echoes after, the kind you wish you stole and read in secret in your teens before you knew you’d die. The flip side is celebration of world, of form, of fire, of family, of memory, and of self—and its continual redefinition for which we should be thankful. Glaciology is one fine way to remind yourself that you’re alive.”—Ander Monson, author of The Available World and Vanishing Point