I first came across the term doom eager in an essay by Lorrie Moore—It’s Better to Write Than Be a Writer. She describes writing as a kind of sickness: that you have to give to your work like a lover, to write intensely, so closely, she says, not with your pen at arm’s length, but with your arm out of the way entirely, your hand up under your arm, near your heart. Moore discovered doom eager through Martha Graham, the dance choreographer whose 1943 production “Deaths and Entrances” (after Dylan Thomas’s work), described the Bronte Sisters as doom eager. Graham claimed it was an Icelandic term, possibly from Ibsen. In her memoir, Blood Memory, she says, “You know when this thing is coming on to you. You know when you walk the streets by the hour. When the restlessness comes, when you are sick with an idea, with something that will not come out.”
While I cannot trace its full etymology, for me every poem in this chapbook has doom eager at its core: I was caught by something I had to write, but couldn’t grasp, and couldn’t stop. That when my mother died when I was seventeen, and my best friend when I was thirty-three, another at fifty-three, my father at fifty-eight—the sickness of loss and love and grief were inexpressible, but precisely what I write for. That our lost loves are never entirely lost. They are right here, in my heart, on the page.
— Karl Meade, from the Preface of doom eager
An incantation, the dictionary tells us, are words intended to produce a desired, often magical, effect. Has Karl Meade written powerful incantations . . . or a book of poems? Allow us to have both, please. Read these poems to enter a cascade of language like spring water, like a landslide, like light. Read the poems aloud and fall in love, drink the healing balm of beauty, raise the dead, or allow them to rest, finally, in peace. I’m not exaggerating. This is a dazzling collection.
— Karen Connelly, author of The Lizard Cage, Come Cold River
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ISBN: 978-1-7781603-4-9 | POETRY | $22.95
Karl Meade has been longlisted for five CBC Literary Prizes, shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year, and shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Open Season Creative Nonfiction Award. His work has appeared in dozens of literary magazines in Canada and the U.S., including Literary Review of Canada, Contemporary Verse 2, Painted Bride Quarterly, Grain, Event, Fiddlehead, and Wrath-Bearing Tree. His novel, Odd Jobs, was a finalist for the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year for Humour, and an iTunes Top 20 Arts and Literature podcast. In 2016 he published an art-poetry chapbook, entitled unearthed, in conjunction with his painter-poet partner, Celia Meade. He currently splits his time between Salt Spring Island, Canada, and New York.