Pennsylvania Collection Agency
Pennsylvania Collection Agency is comprised of poems written in 1986 but withheld from publication until now. This volume utilizes the unifying structure of a single year in the poet’s life as an organizing principle. Burkard has been quietly accumulating one of the most fascinating verse biographies we have, and in this book we visit old territories in unexpectedly candid poems about alcoholism, beauty, and the poet’s childhood.
“Burkard further emblazons the arc of theme and language that is beginning to coalesce into one of the most distinguishable formal and emotional landscapes in contemporary poetry. Idiosyncratic as always, this dazzling writer is never less than entertaining, but as poem is placed over poem, like some celestial template, one begins to feel the presence of much larger truths. All-encompassing, incendiary, immediate, and with a remarkable lyric gift, Burkard leads us to a place under the stars—as if for the first time—and what we find overhead is sublime.”
—David Dodd Lee
“Michael Burkard’s latest book—full of revenants, revisitations, and regrets—is similarly lingering and resonant. Fifteen years passed between the writing of the poems that becamePennsylvania Collection Agency and their publication as a cohesive collection by New Issues, yet they’re not dated. Remnants of timelessness, many of the poems burn as brightly today as they would have in 1987 simply because we feel the voice behind them is true. Burkard tackles alcoholism, the slippage of friends and family and place from memory, unspoken loves and impermanence, in dreamy pastoral timbers”
—Ethan Paquin, Jacket #19
Praise for Michael Burkard’s Poetry:
“We must read Michael Burkard’s poems in the same way they were written–intuitively, sensing that they have been translated from a language we are not entirely fluent in, though we recognize the vocabulary.”
—Dorothy Barresi, The Gettysburg Review
“What emerges through these diaristic poems of the mid-’80s is a portrait of an alcoholic acquainted with violence but not quite on the road to recovery. We get glimpses of an unhappy childhood, of the internal compulsion to drink and of an adult who is both abandoned by loved ones and left to find consolation through poetry: ‘I ask the night to have a heart,/ a small word or two, a mouth/ to speak to you from and two lips to kiss you.'”
Michael Burkard is the author of numerous collections of poetry, the most recent being Entire Dilemma (Sarabande, 1998),Unsleeping (Sarabande, 2001), and Envelope of Night: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1966-1990. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and grants from the New York State Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches at Syracuse University.