WAYS WE VANISH by Todd Dillard
* Finalist for the 2021 Balcones Prize for Poetry *
Todd Dillard's debut poetry collection, WAYS WE VANISH, is about navigating the grief following the loss of a parent while also starting a new life and becoming a parent yourself. It peels back the layers of everyday life to reveal the impossible landscape flourishing underneath—a landscape fraught with sorrow, want, and pain, but also filled with hope, joy, and flight.
Advance Praise for WAYS WE VANISH:
“WAYS WE VANISH is a book of astounding grief that leaves us grateful for the ability to acknowledge the fact of absence and the presence of loss. Todd Dillard is a lyric poet of family—of brotherhood, of fatherhood—whose poems mean to keep these ties alive in memory and word: ‘There is a beautiful thing / I should be able to speak / my tongue a rope to drag him back.’ This is a brilliant debut.” – Jericho Brown, author of THE NEW TESTAMENT and THE TRADITION
“Each poem in WAYS WE VANISH is an answer to a question—what if this is the best way to say this? What if this is the only way to say this? These honest, kind-hearted, and generous poems about family (motherhood, fatherhood, sonhood, brotherhood) are also about war, snakes, bees, dancing, graves, marriage, and the moon—in short, life on Earth, and poetry as a way of understanding it. ‘You look until / you become looking.’” – Elisa Gabbert, author of THE WORD PRETTY and THE UNREALITY OF MEMORY
“To read Dillard’s work is to make a journey to the edges of human experience and imagination: across the surface of Mars, through a door in the woods, into a room where young monsters learn about adulthood. However far we travel, Dillard returns us—deftly, gloriously, devastatingly—to that most familiar yet least understood landscape: a place in the human heart where we seek to make sense our pasts. In this stunning debut collection, Dillard struggles with grief for his mother as he rejoices over becoming a father, showing us that within every joy lies sorrow, and vice versa. Though we live in a world where those we love are ‘there and just as / suddenly not there,’ we move forward to find that ‘every step had become a door’ behind which we may find peace.” – Emma Bolden, author of MEDI(T)ATIONS and HOUSE IS AN ENIGMA
“Stepping into conversation with such collections as Kevin Young’s BOOK OF HOURS and Maggie Smith’s GOOD BONES, Todd Dillard’s beautiful, elegiac book explores a son’s complex grief over the death of his mother, even as he becomes a parent himself. There is such care in Dillard’s language, such clarity of image and thought; these poems left me choked up at their tenderness, their urgency, and their heartfelt exploration of the territory between loss and love.” – Amorak Huey, author of BOOM BOX and POETRY: A WRITER’S GUIDE