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Steve Langan

Steve Langan

Steve Langan graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received the Paul Engle Postgraduate Fellowship from the James Michener Foundation. He is the author of Freezing (New Issues, 2001), Notes on Exile and Other Poems (Backwaters, 2005), and Meet Me at the Happy Bar (BlazeVOX [books], 2009). Langan serves on the teaching and residency faculty of the University of Nebraska MFA in Writing program.

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Also by Steve Langan




$14.00 paper | 90 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-06-7
Publication Date: Jan 2001
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Steve Langan's brilliant first book is full of passion suffused with irony, poems cagily built to deconstruct sentimentality by using self-consciousness as a kind of comic foil. But for all the poet's clever feints and evasions, at the core of the work beats the heart of a romantic. Langan's methods are luminously impressionistic, and the poems percolate with image and materiality, inflection and the full-throated music of language. Freezing glitters with the distant light (or explosions of inner light) of a hundred small moments colliding where perception meets the self in the "unbeautiful city."

"There is something brave and unremitting in these beautifully realized testaments to the unbeautiful city, these dark hymns to the republic, the industrial heartland. I rejoice in this act of poetic warming, in the way Steve Langan has taken a landscape of emotional destitution and transformed it into the sure incantatory cadences of art."
        —Edward Hirsch

"After great pain, an informal feeling comes–and these funny, wise, casually urgent poems are here to bear witness. Here is a new voice out of the prairie–but its ancestors go way back to awe, to the beginning."
        —Carol Muske

"These are tough, gritty, and beautiful poems. Be aware of this, reader: Freezing will set you on fire!"
        —Thomas Lux

"Langan seems bent on rephrasing the blue-collar verities articulated most forcefully by Philip Levine, which means a constant struggle to transcend intellectual constraints imposed by a lower-middle-class lexicon and its sensibilities without sacrificing the streetwise vigor of his bleak Midwestern scene: 'finding no light in the city's shadows / no celestial light, no beacon, no portent.' . . . Freezing is an impressive performance, both in many of its individual poems and its architectonics, its deft mingling of private and imagined other selves, if not always successful in communicating their tragic dimension or feminine alternatives. At several levels, it manifests the craft assurance of a gifted writer well aware of his and our human foibles and consequent anguish."
        —Edward Butcher, The American Book Review, July/August, 2002



Because it has always been it shall remain thus,
sanctification just part of the ongoing episode
about the loss of faith,
which suggests it will involve tears and scarves,
scarred retinas, dangling corneas,
and statuary the housekeeper dusts with a flower.

We hope this does not frighten you much,
escorting you into the unlocked chambers.
Let me assure you we have spent many hours strolling.
Your hand is cold. This is normal.
To your right is a dream; to your left, a mirage.
Your eyes seem troubled. We expect this.

Have you ever despised yourself over the cause
of a riddle? Or started in the middle?
Let me assure you we dream disunion and regret.
And I intend to tell you a host of anecdotes—
But I must return to staring from this misbegotten porch
at the steel sections and long and short tubing

the factory next door has assembled, thinking of the future.
If you wish, we will begin again later.