Husbandry: Poems (Hardcover)
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An intimate, moving volume of poems on the anxieties and love of single fatherhood and domestic life.
Guided by acclaimed poet Matthew Dickman’s signature “clarity and ability to engage” (David Kirby, New York Times), Husbandry is a love song from a father to his children. Written after a separation and during overwhelming single-fatherhood in the early days of COVID-19 lockdowns, Husbandry refuses romantic notions of parenting and embraces all its mess, anguish, humor, fear, boredom, and warmth.
Dickman composes these poems entirely in vivid couplets that animate the various domestic pairs of broken-up parents, two sons, love and grief. He explores the terrain of his children’s dreams and nightmares, the almost primal fears that spill into his own, and the residual impacts of his parents’ failures. Threading his anxieties with bright moments of beauty and gratitude, the volume delights in seeing the world through the clear eyes of childhood and finds meaning in the domestic work—repetitive, exhausting, and sublime—of sustaining three lives.
With tender, aching precision, Husbandry reveals the poet’s hunger to be a husband without ever being one, and his search for a father that ends with becoming one himself.
— Rachel Cusk, author of Second Place
Joseph relegated to holy backdrop. Vader's chilling confession to a wounded Luke. Fathers undervalued, hastily drawn, overly romanticized, dismissed, dramatized, overlooked. Fathers called upon to be substitute everythings, then commanded to be less than shadows. Matthew Dickman's signature lyricism electrifies this new fractured phase of his life story, as a suddenly solo father who witnesses the visceral but tender unreeling of family, who must daily redefine his root as both father and son, and whose utterly stubborn love for his children reveals the chaotic, ungolden work of parenthood.
— Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art
In a clear, spare voice, Husbandry contemplates the joys and struggles of domestic life, detailing many luminous moments of fatherhood.
— Marilyn Chin, author of A Portrait of the Self as Nation
Matthew Dickman’s tenderly forensic, accomplished, and confronting book moves through bitterness to the domestic realities of the work of responsibility and love for our children. In the anxiety of being, nightmares have to be negotiated, and the role we play in showing a way through has to be scrutinized as we go. It’s not easy, it never was, for any of us. And that’s the gift of this book—though so specific, so personal, it can be for any of us.
— John Kinsella, author of Insomnia
Husbandry—one of the most moving books of poems I have read—is told almost in a whisper that now and then breaks into a cry. Tough, plain, gorgeous, brave, innocent, full of dailiness, love, and heartbreak, these poems exist in that mysterious crossover place between the inner life and the lives of others.
— Sarah Arvio, author of Cry Back My Sea