West of Midnight
New and Selected Poems

by Franz Douskey

130 Pages, 5½ x 8½

Library of Congress Control Number:  2011921531

ISBN:  978-1-935520-38-2

Publication Date:  04/05/2011

Press Release


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A long overdue collection, West of Midnight: New & Selected Poems, by Franz Douskey, places new works alongside pieces drawn from a decades-spanning career to illustrate the breadth of an influential and singular voice in poetry. Franz Douskey's insights are uniquely his, his voice direct and his imagination meteoric. Douskey has lived long and large. He has published in Rolling Stone, the Nation, The New York Quarterly, The New Yorker and Las Vegas Life. His readings and travels with such notables as James Dickey, Allen Ginsberg, Ai, Charles Bukowski, and F. D. Reeve are legendary. The poems are rich in wit, irreverence and a furious honesty. Everything is autobiographical. From intimate relationships, political quagmires, baseball and eroticism, Douskey wields an acerbic wit and a delicate command of tone to dive into the contradictions that make us human. From the haunted urban alleys of a turbulent childhood to his rhapsodic journeys through the nocturnal deserts of the Southwest, Douskey revels both in the absurdity of modern civilization and the heart-stopping beauty of the natural world. —Robert Reinhardt


This astonishing collection sweeps from the America of 50 years ago to the one today. Though ruthless plutocrats have brought the nation to its fall, Douskey knows that "even in twilight the land simmers." He deftly satirizes public hypocrisy and cold pretentiousness—"and when the old lady got drenched / by a passing car and when / your brother got busted / for possession you laughed / someday someone's gonna / cut out your heart / and stuff it in an / olive." Some poems show bright disinterestedness ("The Crossing"); some, snappy irreverence ("Peace"); some, first-rate cultural criticism ("Charles Ives"); and some, compassion for loss ("The Victims," "Facing the Lost,""Eric"). How sweet, still, the passion of love:

If in half-light our bodies meet,
it is like the sky opening,
filling the room with cobalt blue embers.

This book of strong poetry stands out for its rich themes and its author's modest uprightness in a culture that thinks integrity is "an arcane idea." A wonderfully original, distinguished book that embraces our world.

—F. D. Reeve