Poem Bitten by a Man

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Collaged from journals and notebooks kept during a period of chronic illness, economic precarity, and heartbreak, Poem Bitten By a Man captures crisis by cutting up the record of a queer life lived in devotion to poetry and visual art.


A medical emergency, a road trip, a breakup, and a paean to the power of creative process--Poem Bitten by a Man is for everyone who has tried against the odds to make a life in art, whether they succeeded or not. Using somatic language captured through a notebook practice, Teare recontextualizes the work of Agnes Martin, Jasper Johns, and others via art criticism, psychoanalysis, biography, queer theory, and historical document to honor writers, artists, and thinkers who sustain us when nothing else does.

About the Author

A 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, Brian Teare is the author of eight chapbooks and six critically acclaimed books, including Companion Grasses, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, and Doomstead Days, winner of the Four Quartets Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle, Kingsley Tufts, and Lambda Literary Awards. His most recent publication is the 2022 reissue of The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven; his seventh book, Poem Bitten by a Man, is forthcoming from Nightboat in the fall of 2023. His honors include Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards, and fellowships from the NEA, the Pew Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the MacDowell Colony. After over a decade of teaching and writing in the San Francisco Bay Area, and eight years in Philadelphia, he's now an Associate Professor of Poetry at the University of Virginia. An editorial board member of Poetry Daily, he lives in Charlottesville, where he makes books by hand for his micropress, Albion Books. Author residence: Charlottesville, VA

"The 'structure of feeling' that Teare's book 'leaves behind' is of something poignant (partly due to its difficult subject matter--abuse, illness, hardship), but what remains is also an impression of clearness, and beauty. If this sounds like a description of a painting, that is to Teare's credit." --Janani Ambikapathy, Harriet Books


"In Poem Bitten by a Man, the colors brought forth by a healer in the wake of a migraine are put into conversation with the blue stripes of an Agnes Martin canvas; heartbreak is metabolized like the waxy mouthful bitten out of a Jasper Johns painting; queer art histories, riddled with holes, become a poet's braille as he seeks out a tolerable place on the pain scale. This book is already a mainstay, a nexus of body and image and story and time that I'll reach toward again and again." --Aisha Sabatini Sloan


"For all the anguish that Brian Teare's assemblage brings into focus, Poem Bitten by a Man evinces a surprisingly classical serenity and equipoise, its varied elements (art criticism, biography, autobiography, poetry, political analysis) splayed around a composed core, an authorial eye and ear that know the exact dosage that the music requires. I admire the mental legerdemain of this book's performance of care and distress, and I feel, with the intimacy of a linguistic caress, the gestures it makes toward imagining poetry's future possibilities." --Wayne Koestenbaum


"I'm always moved (and changed) by Brian Teare. It's already a part of my mind what he makes and says this rich stark work affects me so deeply. Here to read means avidly copying into my notebook from his because what it is, this book, is heart and pain and the loosened materiality of all of it, the bodily records of his life and art and him copying thoughtfully from Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin everyone all pouring our secret public thoughts into so many cups, it's dark & luminous reading this potion." --Eileen Myles


"Ekphrasis involves voicing what art can't speak. Teare's expansive response to the art of Agnes Martin and Jasper Johns--touching on visionaries such as Ruth Asawa, Jay DeFeo, Sam Gillian as well--does this ever so differently. While probing the conditions allowing the artists to transmute biography and turn away from turmoil, he sounds out their findings, letting them undergird his bodily experience of precarity, illness, and queer love. Behold the poet's gorgeous turn toward!" --Mónica de la Torre



"Teare, struggling with illness, searches for lost balance through an intense engagement with the painting of Agnes Martin. These achingly beautiful poems demonstrate the ways that, as Dickinson puts it, 'After great pain, a formal feeling comes.'" --Rae Armantrout




Publisher: Nightboat Books
Pub date: September 26, 2023
108 pages
Format: Paperback