Sword of Glass

“Schireson hits all the notes in this textured, intelligent, deeply compelling collection.” ~ Martha Rhodes



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I love Peter Schireson’s book of poems, Sword of Glass.  These poems manage to seem finely wrought and improvised, madcap and solemn, down to earth and mystical, a perfect blend of Mel Brooks and Rumi. This is work to live with, brood about, and learn by heart. I love this book.

 ~ Alan Shapiro, author of over ten poetry collections, including Life Pig and Reel to Reel

Here is the poet on the page as naturally as a man in the shower.  He has brought the experience of a whole life with him.  He is not ashamed to love women, children and family. Neither does he flinch to write of death or loss or crime, but even the saddest Peter Schireson poem is an occasion for delectation, relish. He has written, “Together, we would change the world / one warm French potato salad at a time.” He has written “Aunt Jennifer’s Painting of Uncle Marsh Playing Tennis with Satan.” It is all here, the laughter, the tears, and the dream of the one great soul, rendered with exacting craft and tenderness. Sword of Glass is a marvelous book.

Rodney Jones, author of many books of poetry including Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985–2005 and Elegy for the Southern Drawl

The power of Peter Schireson’s book lies in his ability to dig with a shovel where he stands and to throw same shovel far, far away, digging where it lands. In other words, these poems work on multiple levels—they are at once deeply personal, and contemporary, aware of the world around the speaker. The poems of this collection are both shattering and darkly humorous. Schireson hits all the notes in this textured, intelligent, deeply compelling collection.

~ Martha Rhodes, author of five collections of poetry, including
The Thin Wall and The Beds

Peter Schireson’s beautiful poems—full of wit, loyal to the potential for late-life erotics, drawn to stare the most terrible facts in the face—startle the reader into the awakeness, and even hilarity, that results when  an essential strangeness is revealed inside the supposedly ordinary. As Schireson’s poems progress a sudden ignition takes place, a kind of creative furor, in which the veil of illusions is torn and one looks directly at a luminous truth. Sword of Glass is that—a magnificent furor.

Patrick Donnelly, author of Little-Known OperasNocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, and The Charge

Peter Schireson is a poet of surprise, waving a hand, enlarging the frame to include a man combing his hair as he slips between the comb’s teeth.

Not a poetic top hat or wand in sight, but melancholy leaks off the page, duplicating the scent of my high- school homeroom. Did we both date the same forlorn girl? Each poem is like an exploding piñata, scattering golden M&Ms, the shadows of moths, and secrets into the empty vases, the pencil holders, the steaming coffee on my desk. Something plunks into a clear fishbowl, suddenly unfurling into brilliant paper peonies and dahlias. How does he do that? He might just be a magician.

~ Peter Coyote, author of Sleeping Where I Fall and Zen Priest, Soto lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi