The forty poems in this collection have percolated through more than forty years of meditation on “city” that began when I was an undergraduate studying with Richard Luecke at Valparaiso University. The title, In the Path of Totality, references a phrase made familiar by media coverage leading up to the total solar eclipse that was visible across the middle of the United States in August 2017. The path of totality tracked part of a route I’ve driven many times over the past forty years on frequent trips between Chicago (where I live and work) and the Texas Panhandle (where I grew up), and the phrase calls to mind a philosophical question that has been of particular interest to me during those same years. It seemed to take on a life of its own when the eclipse was billed as “all-American” – and became in my mind shorthand for the kinds of nightmares I imagine Kierkegaard had about Hegel and his System. Some of the poems have appeared in earlier versions, but all have been reformed and made new for this collection, organized around a formal structure that is itself a subtle meditation on what counts in our presencing. Imagery is drawn from cities some readers will recognize – Chicago, Boston, Shenzhen – but always with an eye on the city scattered across the plains that I have come to see as the we by which I am.

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