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Wish Meal charts one man’s evolution from El Dorado pilgrim and prodigal son to a stay-at-home father, navigating from his Indiana boyhood to the family he makes in the Pacific Northwest. In Whitsel’s poems, we encounter places, rites, decades and nights of perishable abundance. He nurtures apple trees, secrets, prize tomatoes, fascinations and bewildering kids. He navigates between the burden of an heirloom faith and the transcendence of Oregon rivers and skies. The Wish of belonging becomes Whitsel’s grist, his Meal, subject to blemish and ferment.
"Tim Whitsel’s poetry is rife with the pleasing desperation of the blues’ stance: I’m so far down I might never get back up. But by bein’ down, if you’ll get on down here with me, baby, we just might find us a way through. These poems ride out moments of bare survival, of hopefulness and beauty, and of complete brokenness with equally keen attention and articulation, often creating solace through an acuity of perception to events that would otherwise be without solace. I couldn’t put Wish Meal down."
— David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K
The four conceptual poems in The Catalog of Broken Things question identity in the face of disaster and change, emptiness and encounter. The poems break human experience into basic components: waking, sleeping, loss, memory, imagination, empathy, responsibility to oneself and others. The Catalog combines raw emotional intensity with surreal imagery to explore the notion of “story,” a tool we use to create structure and meaning out of uncertainty.
"You are holding...although it looks normal...a deeply wild book. Molotkov has many voices that he wrangles into different forms...some punctuated, some not. With ease and beauty, he moves from tender, elegiac poems about a mother to a diaristic travelogue. The Catalog of Broken Things is a book to read and re-read."
— Carl Adamshick