James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For Dust Thou Art: Poems by Timothy Liu

In honor of National Poetry Month, this week's book is "For Dust Thou Art: Poems by Timothy Liu." Liu is an associate professor of English at William Paterson University and has published five previous collections of poetry. His biography in Poetry Magazine further describes him as "an Asian, Mormon, gay man."

This collection is divided into three parts and it is an odd threesome. The first part is infused with a vibrant eroticism,"A taste/of oil and salt glistening on those toasted bodies."Part two zeroes in on the tragedy of the World Trade Center, "The liminal edge/of what has been--the suspension/of daily activity where what is/possible outweighs the probable." And part three rises up and looks down on both the transient nature of the human condition as well as the, sometimes inexplicable, will to go on, "nostalgia's shade a load of leaves/from a tree that no longer stands."

Liu has a facility for accessible poetry that leaves a haunting sadness. It chronicles the mundane, material aspects of the world while, at the same time, elevating them to something that reaches upward into the human spirit.