Sandy McIntosh's entertaining new volume might be mistaken, at first, for a merry romp through personal and literary history conducted by a slightly confused, well-meaning people-pleaser. His confusion begins with his bemused revelation that he has (maybe) two mothers, and continues through various other doublings (dream transformations, reincarnations, literary 'forgeries,' literary mothers both male and female, poems masquerading as prose and vice versa) to a final doubling (double-crossing) that brings with it a 'broade [sic] awaking' to reality....
This is a book of elegies—eulogies, really—to all the literal and literary bastards who have made McIntosh an artist and (maybe) a con. —Laural Blossom, American Book Review
“As the title suggests, the poet’s quest is familial, but it is also poetic. In a way, the poetic mentors McIntosh invokes (such as Allen Ginsberg and David Ignatow) are like fathers, or at least older brothers, to him. A sort of detective, McIntosh uses whatever tools are available to shed light on his family and poetic pasts.... The innovation of this work is most apparent when McIntosh combines as many methods as possible into one piece.”—Erica Wright, ForeWord
"Obsessional", a long poem in parts, comprises the final section.... Throughout "Obsessional", the speaker's work serves as an additional focal point: a literary scandal in 1559 surrounding Cambridge scholar Nicholas Grimald, London Printer Richard Tottel and the publication of Songs and Sonnets.... Intriguing and entertaining enough that it would make an excellent film.—Rebecca Spears, Sentence
The showcase piece of this book, a long sequence titled “Obsessional,” is remarkable for yoking an engaging Elizabethan literary detective story to a personal narrative about life as a grad school poet. Even more impressive than this set-up actually succeeding is the way McIntosh is able to tie compassion to dagger-thrust humor. If that’s what “obsessional” poetry is—personal narrative of neurosis that is aware a world exists outside the poet’s gut, and is not afraid to tell a joke—maybe it will catch on among those still in the stranglehold of the confessional.
The ending sequence is balanced at the front of the book by the title sequence, composed of memorial lyrics and anecdotes in prose and free verse, at once touching and chilling. With pieces about David Ignatow, Allen Ginsberg, and H. R. Hayes the book leaves a haunting lasting impression, like the poet’s mother in “The Hospital Chair”—“She touches you and tells you you are healed/ and may go home,” but also warns “No one knows what will happen/ when I leave my tomb in the night/ to touch you.” —Brian Clements, Boog City
Sandy McIntosh’s The After-Death History of My Mother is whimsical, sharp, humorous and clever. It’s multi-hued content reflected in the multicoloured joyful painting of its cover. The joi de vie of the art is a shocking contrast to the stark declaration of death made by the title. This juxtaposition continues through the book with poems sectioned into moments of contrast to those before and after them. It seems to dare the reader to follow the thread of McIntosh’s thought, to try to keep pace with what at one moment is funereal slow and the next as fast as the night creature avoiding the glare of a porch light.... McIntosh’s ability to skip a whimsied path between prose and poetry is one of the most enduring factors of this book. He feels no need to confine himself to one style within a poem; occasionally he brings in drama as well. Perhaps in his next collection he will add lyrics and a news report, and the one after that can bring in a thesis and biblical sermon. I wouldn’t underestimate anything about this poet. He is a wild card, and they are often the best to read and follow. The After-Death History of My Mother is an energetic book. The reader is dazzled, bemused and caught unawares by the way McIntosh approaches his subject. A surreal book for a surreal today!—Fionna Doney Simmonds, Galatea Ressurects
Praise for Between Earth and Sky:
“Gorgeous writing.”—Lanford Wilson
“At any time the zany can burst out of the customary, the past out of the present. . . . For McIntosh, surprise is discovery of selfhood. His poems step back from actuality and reconsider what’s familiar. . . . He emphasizes the importance of ‘something real’ among ‘hallucinations.’ The journey from the predictable to the new defines these poems..”—Frank Allen, American Book Review
“There’s an old adage that says something like, “If you want to make them laugh, you have to get them crying,” and McIntosh clearly understands how to put this adage into effect. Like the best surrealists (and when I think of the best American surrealists, Mark Strand, Russell Edson, and Charles Simic come to mind), McIntosh realizes that the best humor is found in a tight embrace with our coming to terms with our mortality, and it’s in these black zones where we need to go.”—Steven J. Stewart, Sidereality
Sandy McIntosh’s collections of poetry include Between Earth and Sky (Marsh Hawk Press), Endless Staircase (Street Press), Earth Works (Long Island University), Which Way to the Egress? (Garfield Publishers), and two chapbooks: Obsessional (Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry) and Monsters of the Antipodes (Survivors Manual Books). His prose includes Firing Back, with Jodie-Beth Galos (John Wiley & Sons), From A Chinese Kitchen (American Cooking Guild), and The Poets In the Poets-In-The-Schools (Minnesota Center for Social Research, University of Minnesota. His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Nation, the Wall Street Journal, American Book Review, and elsewhere. His original poetry in a film script won the Silver Medal in the Film Festival of the Americas.
Rose Graubart Ignatow (1914-1995) was an accomplished 20th century American writer and artist. Her art, which is autobiographical in nature, includes landscapes, portraits, period pieces of high and popular art, folk and outsider art. She studied at Cooper Union and the Art Students League as well as independently with Jack Levine. She exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, New York City and Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York. She had over ten one person shows at Gotham Book Mart, Carlebach Gallery and participated in other exhibitions throughout the United States. A large selection of her work is now part of the Altman Family Collection.
ISBN 0-9759197-4-1 $15.00