It is this "shockability" that informs Karl Kirchwey's new work. Through four collections, he has explored the resonances between past and present, seeking a sense of home in a world of losses. Now, as the horrors of the modern world crowd in on him, he meditates on the future his children will inherit. These are angry poems, tender poems, poems of hope, love, and despair.
Reviewing Kirchwey's last book in The New Criterion , William Logan wrote: "An elegy for an uncle, a World War II pilot killed in the Pacific, reminds us that we live only by the sacrifice of the dead, and therefore in their shadows. Shadows fall frequently over these poems, from lives corrupted, crippled, or destroyed," and in the concluding section of this new work, a prose memoir with poems that will appear in full in Parnassus , the poet revisits that dead uncle and the unhappy generations preceding his own. Seeking out family origins and family secrets, this section climaxes in a holy Hindu pilgrimage in honor of the dead and returns the poet, who in his search has circled the globe, to the family of the living and the circumscribed happiness of this world.