The Crossing

The CrossingSeveral motifs run through the formal and free-verse poems in Jonathan Fink’s debut collection: the relationship of the physical body to labor and desire, the nature of suffering that is paradoxically overpowering and instructive, and the struggle and definition of the individual will within the larger social world. Though the subjects of the poems vary from the author’s upbringing in West Texas to a historical sequence about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, all of the poems share, as Natasha Trethewey writes in her introduction, “precision of language, clarity, and the quest for beauty.”  Keenly rendered, at once accessible and complex, The Crossing embodies Robert Frost’s maxim that, “There is nothing as mysterious as something clearly seen.”

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Praise for The Crossing

“In The Crossing, Jonathan skillfully grapples with thematic material engaging larger social and political implications without sacrificing precision of language, clarity, and the quest for beauty that characterizes all of his work.  It is refreshing to read a collection that sets the exploration of our common humanity in a history that at once sheds light on parts of the past that might have gone overlooked.” – From the introduction to The Crossing by Natasha Trethewey, United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry 2012-2014

“Young Jonathan Fink has written a collection of fierce distinction—having come into a vision clear-eyed and wildly surprising, deeply felt. He’s a better guide than Dante had through our hells and heavens. Buy this one!” – Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club and Lit

“These are deeply felt and highly intelligent poems—what Robert Frost called ‘the thought/felt thing.’  This is also a young poet who has learned his craft, his trade. The result? A remarkable, whole, powerful debut collection!” – Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand

The Crossing impressed me from the start by its acts of rigorous attention: poems that enact a heedfulness and carefulness, poems that ‘translate to the page the body’s dream.’ The fable, the myth, the story, the legend, the lie are focused in his vigilant lens and history becomes presence; things are sustained in his regard. Fink’s meters are a way to gauge and measure experience, to create a ceremony for our vanishing and our fugitive work as he does in the compelling last section about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911. Fink weeps for those who have yet to be wept for. The poems are a ‘tightening, a binding’ and have both of the great poetic virtues: commitment and discernment.” – Bruce Smith, author of Devotions

In these terrific poems, Jonathan Fink’s imagination ranges from myth and scripture to scenes from modern life, and everywhere he looks there’s revelation. His work transports us, because it serves the nuances of empathy: for the young woman who survives a factory fire and pushes away through the crowd; for the WWI pilot who crashes in the sea; for a high school boy threading his way through the brutality of his classmates’ prejudices. Fink sees how people live at moments of extremity, and he uses his great gift to make poems sing their praise.” – Brooks Haxton, author of Fading Hearts on the River: A Life in High-Stakes Poker

“Few collections invite a reader to luxuriate like The Crossing. Perception and reality underpin many of Fink’s poems, which include an account of high school bullying and an 18-part poem about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. In such competent hands, the book’s varied topics–a meditation on Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, a restaurant peopled by oil-field roughnecks–feel not only cohesive but visionary. The threads Fink weaves between worlds past and present, real and fantasized, are as palpable as they are prescient.” – Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“In formal and free-verse poetry, Jonathan Fink pours his stories onto the page. Personal pieces, with himself as the subject, and pieces that tell the stories of others come together to form a collection of intelligent poems, both revealing of the individual self and the larger social picture in which we live.” — World Literature Today

“The poems in Jonathan Fink’s debut book The Crossing were a decade in the making, and it shows with well-crafted language and imagery that broadens expectations of modern poetic narrative, while still carrying a torch for more formal styles of verse.” — NewPages

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