T H E   H A L F - L I F E

poems by

Roger Greenwald


    We hold our bodies; mine shakes.
    It shakes and shakes till my seed
    is making dry music like a gourd’s.
    Seed and language, mine and hers,
    deepest flesh I have. No end to
    shake and sing while the blood goes.
                             from “Body Dreams”

The Half-Life, Roger Greenwald’s third book of poems, falls into three sections. “Body Dreams” conveys the depths of feeling that both idylls and nightmares emerge from. “Home on the Range” finds the poet becalmed but far from calm. In “Open Water” he casts himself into the world, into the lows and highs of travel: solitudes and new encounters, all suffused with memory. What is unfamiliar and exhilarating in these poems is Greenwald’s unique braiding of narrative, idea, and voice as the bearer of emotion. As Rosanna Warren said in recommending his previous book in Ploughshares, “He sounds like no one else.”


“I’ve been a grateful reader of Roger Greenwald’s work for many years. This moving collection names again and again the hard names, with their deep tone-falls, that mark the inner landscape of his poetry. It’s a sensuous wordscape of life and loss, and it’s an emotional terrain that offers the reader any number of routes, all of them finally transcendental. I have the highest regard for Greenwald’s poetry.”
— Jay Parini, author of New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015

The Half-Life is a terrific book. I love its formal dexterity and high intelligence. The poems enact the intricate rhythms of thought and feeling, building sometimes toward anxiety and sometimes toward the expression of a mind deep in memory, meditation, regret, or travel. Roger Greenwald has created interiorities that are musically engaging while evoking a brilliant and complex personality.”
— Kevin Prufer

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Roger Greenwald grew up in New York City. He attended City College and the Poetry Project workshop at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery. then completed graduate degrees at the University of Toronto, where he founded and edited the international literary annual WRIT Magazine at Innis College. His poetry has appeared in such journals as The World, Pequod, Pleiades, Poetry East, Prism International, The Spirit That Moves Us, The Texas Observer, Great River Review, Leviathan Quarterly, Exile Magazine, CNQ, Copper Nickel, The Massachusetts Review, and Stand Magazine. He has won two CBC Literary Awards (for poetry and travel literature), the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize, and many awards for his translations from Scandinavian languages. He has published two previous books of poems: Connecting Flight and Slow Mountain Train.

Rochester, NY: Tiger Bark Press, 2020
ISBN 978-1-7329012-5-4
Paperback, USD $16.95; CAD $19.95
Distributed by Small Press Distribution, San Francisco

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