Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts

Longlist, National Book Awards 2015 for Poetry

Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts by Lawrence Raab book cover, 2015
ISBN 9781936797653
Tupelo Press
Lawrence Raab

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Pretend that these poems by Lawrence Raab have come to you from very far away. Think of them as written by Poet Z, a heretofore-unheard-of Eastern European poet, a Kafka-Andrade-Calvino character from Serbo-Chechnya-Lithuania. What’s in his poems? Angels and human monsters, decades and generations, universities turned into ashes, the consolation of philosophy, despair in the middle of the night, a tutorial in lucid dreaming. Only his poetic humor gives away his American citizenship. His poems lead you into, then trap you, in strange worlds, boxes constructed of story, logic, and aphorism, which then are revealed to be exactly like life itself. Now, these poems by Z have finally been translated into an American idiom that is canny, sly, defeated, pessimistic, resilient, and perplexingly knowledgeable about the human predicament. They are also often beautiful, bewildered, disquieting, and full of paradoxical laughter and contemplative solace. Mistaking Each Other for Ghostsis a tender, lonely, deeply intelligent tour of that distinctive country of the soul.