Notes for My Body Double

Winner of the 2006 Book Prize in Poetry

About the Book

Who would guess that Godzilla, the Invisible Man, Elvis, Donald Duck, Ted Williams, and the Three Stooges might have something to say about the love and loss that shape the way we see the world? And yet these are the pop-culture coordinates that chart the emotional life brilliantly mapped out in Paul Guest’s second book of poems. Winner of the Prairie Schooner Prize in Poetry, this collection plumbs the depths of nature and culture (how, for instance, “gar” in Old English means “spear,” and an octopus can lose a limb during mating) to give form to the darkness and the light that make us human. In poetry whose tone is largely one of lament tempered by a wry and intelligent humor, Paul Guest does what a poet does best: he gives us the moments of his life refashioned to reflect the larger arc and meaning of our own—of life, that is, writ large.


You can read an excerpt from Notes for My Body Double on the University of Nebraska Press website here.


“[A]ppealingly conversational poems. . . . It’s a book concerned with imagined futures and closed doors, with the lives we might be living if we weren’t living this one. . . . Guest knows how way leads on to way—how digressive life itself can be.”—Eric McHenry, New York Times Book Review

“How can there be radiance and plentitude in the dark, diminished world? What can a child’s broken neck make of the future? Paul Guest’s poems are answers to these questions. They are incandescent, terrifying, scalding, and unafraid to be lovely. In Guest’s poems ardor marries grief. Blood beats a mighty river. The idiotic weds the sublime. Romance meets its nullifying twin. They have the force of wonder. They wound. Notes For My Body Double accrues a music that channels Muscle Shoals and Memphis—a blues of hunger, angels, secrets and fire.”—Bruce Smith, author of Songs for Two Voices

“Paul Guest has managed to write, simultaneously, to and of himself, in poems that balance the narrative and lyrical impulses with uncommon grace.”—Bob Hicok, author of This Clumsy Living

Notes for My Body Double has the utmost integrity: all its parts interconnect and clearly relate to an overarching theme. The poet underscores this by arranging the poems in a continuous rush forcing the reader into the skin of the one whose future has altered in an instant. Whatever redemption the speaker experiences arrives primarily through love of language and imagination (‘In praise of the fat moon, in praise of my howl’). This relentless collection is not easy to read, but its rewards are manifold.”—Carole Simmons Oles, author of Waking Stone: Inventions on the Life of Harriet Hosmer

Paul Guest

About the Author

Paul Guest’s first collection, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, won the 2002 New Issues Poetry Prize. His poems appear in Poetry, The Southern Review, Slate, Crazyhorse, Verse and elsewhere. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Notes for my Body Double, was published in 2007 by the University of Nebraska Press. He is a visiting professor of English at the University of West Georgia and the recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award. Recently, Ecco acquired his memoir, One More Theory About Happiness, plus a collection of poems.