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Someone Falls Overboard Who hasn’t wanted to live that writer’s dream, eavesdropping on two great poets? For nine days, Steven Kuusisto and Ralph Savarese exchanged poems, multiple poems daily, and responded to each one: riffing, sampling, griping, cracking wise. The result is Someone Falls Overboard: Talking through Poems, a project suggested by the poetic dialogue between William Stafford and Marvin Bell, but unmistakably Kuusisto and Savarese. Water runs through this book: a paradise, a poem-drinker, a physical place where the poets boat together, “Two disabled men—this isn’t a joke,” on Lake Winnipesaukee. Ultimately water becomes the current that pulls between two powerful and poetic intelligences. The project is as kinetic and un-precious as it sounds. “I’ve banished irony,” writes Savarese, and Kuusisto responds, “Finnish underworld, a lake/where a swan glides.” Someone Falls Overboard is crackling smart, hilarious without losing its urgency, centered firm in this historical moment yet an instant classic in the long tradition of poetry in conversation. Reading is listening, ear pressed against an irresistible door.—Susanne Paola Antonetta, author of The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here
Someone Falls Overboard is an effortless read and extremely funny! The poetic back-and-forth is brimming with wit, camaraderie and genuine emotion. It is an absolute treat, for us readers, to be in the audience as two good friends have a heartfelt conversation about themselves and everything in between. Savarese and Kuusisto have unlocked the secret to surviving a pandemic in style.—Siddharth Dhananjay, star of the film Patti CAKE$
Once in a great while, speed dating works. Something deep happens fast. So it is with Overboard, the rapid-fire exchange of two brilliant poets, Ralph James Savarese and Stephen Kuusisto. They go back and forth amid our current chaos and their own haunts like Ali and Frazier. It’s jazz. It’s chess. It’s a repartee of reverence and irreverence. It’s great.—Marty Dobrow, author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream
Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, Someone Falls Overboard is a poetic conversation and an answer to the isolation of lockdown. Tossing images and metaphors back and forth, riffing on each other’s ideas, acclaimed writers Stephen Kuusisto and Ralph James Savarese explore the meaning of age, disability, poetry, and memory; what emerges is a single long poem about friendship, witty, inventive, profane.—George Estreich, author of Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves
A. R. Ammons once described two butterflies spiraling upward on each other’s air currents as ‘swifter in / ascent than they / can fly or fall’ (‘Trap’). And that’s what’s going on here with Kuusisto and Savarese, two masters of poetic improv soaring higher on each other’s drafts than any artist could hope to fly alone. Witty and moving in equal parts, their collaboration makes for a can’t-miss performance.—Julie Kane, author of Mothers of Ireland: Poems
To open this book is to remember that poetry is playtime—in the right hands. Kuusisito and Savarese goad each along in a game of ‘look what you did, now look what I can do.’ They create a series of interlocking playgrounds, and you never know who you might meet there, or where you might find yourself. There’s George Eliot, Jay-Z, Jack Kennedy, Elizabeth Bishop. We’re flying through the sky on an airplane, we wake up on an operating table, we’re playing trombone like it’s having sex. There’s that kid peeing in the kiddie pool. Why is there shit on the church pew? Who’s got diarrhea now? This pair of poets invites us into their intimate playground, a place where they express the tenderness of friendship in a vernacular lyricism that reminds us, in their words, ‘We’re smarter than we knew.’ —Jason Tougaw, author of The One You Get: Portrait of a Family Organism
Someone Falls Overboard is a back-and-forth between two poets that ranges from the goofy to the profound. The conversation is as far from the usual polished poetic fare as you can get; rather, it’s interested in the raw ingredients—memory and association—and the ways in which seemingly disparate things can collide and intertwine. Strung loosely together, the poems are rough, fast, unpredictable, and very funny. It takes both recklessness and courage to play in public, but that’s what these poets do, giving us a deep glimpse into a long friendship and demonstrating that ‘You must / Get lost / To live.’—Chase Twichell, author of Things as It Is.