Cowles Poetry Prize Winner
Publication: October 25, 2016
“Full of essential solitudes though simultaneously lit by “a whore’s lightbulb against a star sky,” the poems in this, Modlin’s first, book are remarkable for their candor, for their wit, for their urge toward and into new moods and new modes. These poems, reminiscent of Beckian Fritz Goldberg and Norman Dubie, ask, “touch me here,” and we do, and we emerge humored but also transformed. In prose and in verse, the poems here, much like the book’s title, have two names: holy and brilliant.” —Gary McDowell, author of Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None, co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry
“Poignant, quirky, troubled, the poems in Everyone at This Party are reminiscent of James Tate, Bill Knott, and eternal Edward Lear. Rife with characters who stumble, speakers who suffer, and wisdoms that bristle with the darkest and lightest aspects of being alive, Modlin’s portraits are delightful, artful, and frightening collages of the fractured individual who must daily relearn the lessons of love and grief. To read this book is to recoil with recognition, and then to shoot forward with the courage it provides via humor and the unexpected warmth of shared plight.”—Larissa Szporluk, author of Traffic with Macbeth
“Brad Aaron Modlin is at once curious and bemused about our behaviors, the gaps in our understanding, and the questions that seem to have been answered behind our backs, starting even before that day we were absent in 4th grade. Modlin navigates an entertaining hermeneutics of the everyday, grappling with relentless mutability. His whimsical metaphors and scenarios suggest that we are in thrall to the belief that by now we should understand everything; by now we should no longer be lonely. An impressive debut from a poet who is as interesting as he is unpredictable.”—J. Allyn Rosser, author of Mimi’s Trapeze
“What if the center really does not hold? What if the life you are living feels like a party you’ve wandered into, a party in which you, everything in your head, and everyone around you, is spinning, flying off into some emptiness for which the abyss is far too gentle a name? How is one to live in such a world? And why should one even try? The poetry of Brad Aaron Modlin, in the wit and energy of its language, in the complexity of its emotions, and in the authenticity of its vision, helps us believe that we could with labor and love get a glimpse of a few of the answers. When you finish this book, you’ll most likely want to thank him.”—Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House and Said Not Said (Graywolf Press)
Brad Aaron Modlin earned his MFA from Bowling Green State and his PhD from Ohio University. His poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Florida Review, Indiana Review, DIAGRAM, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, and others.