Tim Suermondt’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Barrow Street, The Georgia Review, Indiana Review, Southern Poetry Review, Northeast Corridor, and River Styx, as well as such online journals as The Cortland Review and Painted Bride Quarterly, and in anthologies such as Poetry After 9-11: An Anthology of New York Poets. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was a winner of the 63rd Street Y Open Voice Award.
Tim Suermondt Books at the Backwaters Press
Author: Tim Suermondt
Format: Paperback, 104 pages
Published: August 2007
Praise for Suermondt’s poetry
“Lyricism has always escaped me,” jokes Tim Suermondt, yet in his commingling of humor and tenderness, often within a single line, he demonstrates again and again how “a gesture, a mere glance can set worlds/ablaze.” Whether viewing war-torn 19th century Virginia through Whitman’s loving yet unflinching gaze or spring-flushed 21st century New York City with “no fear of…/terrorists,” Suermondt reminds us “how beautiful we were, how beautiful we are.” Such consolations deepen these beautifully offbeat reveries.
• Michael Waters – Three-time winner of The Pushcart Prize
Yes, the earth may be in bad shape, but in Tim Suermondt’s magical collection of poems Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance, the angels are willing to give us points for laughing through our tears. When you read these funny, urgent poems full of real people who live in the city and make grilled cheese sandwiches and hang out in bookstores you feel refreshed, not depressed. Sure, things are awful, but Suermondt doesn’t give in. He pins on a pair of snazzy wings and takes us places that make us smile and applaud. His wry, tough, deeply human voice transforms everything he sees into something brave and marvelous. These are poems you want to reread because they don’t just make you laugh—though they do—they make you think.
• Maura Stanton – Author of Glacier Wine
In these remarkable poems we meet Nixon and Elvis, the Elephant Man and Helen Vendler. The world we live in is revealed in all of its wonderful strangeness, as in one poem a winter coat turns into a woman “primed to dance,” and in another, there’s a candelabrum in the speaker’s soup. Tim Suermondt has the courage to see the world freshly, the way children see, or madmen—the wisest of madmen.
• Beth Ann Fennelly – Winner of the Kenyon Review Prize for Poetry
Link to: The Rattle review
Poems from Trying to Help the Elephant Man Dance
Castro, Dying, Dreams of Baseball
His high heater strikes the last batter out.
At the post game conference, Young Fidel says:
“I’m blessed. I mean, I might have been a politician”—
the laughter as sincere as it is poignant.
His autograph: A circle with a shooting flame—
he signs for everyone, for as long as it takes.
At home, he removes his Havana Club uniform
as carefully as a diva removes her expensive gown.
He doesn’t give a thought about the Russians
or the hustling of Communism with a human face—
what did Lenin, Stalin and fat Khrushchev know about
the beauty of a 95 mile-an-hour-plus fastball?
His golden arm sparkles in the bathroom mirror.
Bad Night at Club Solidarity
The band is playing
poorly as the Metropolitans.
Your date keeps
calling you Hans, or Billy Joe.
A world away
a man is swept
off the street, disappearing
into the small h of history.
Where are the ships
on the river, the white stars—
that woman in a yellow dress,
gingerly combing her long black hair.
My friend rides a Jersey bus
passing through a Jersey town
where a woman he’s still crazy about
(but hardly ever said a word to)
works at a corner store.
My friend recounts the times
he plopped his hands on the glass,
begging for the courage to get off
at the next stop, run to the woman
and fall at her feet. “Don’t collapse
from a heart attack like Zhivago did
dragging himself after Lara.”
My friend says, “My heart’s strong.”
I say, “When it comes to love,
no one’s heart is strong.”
Not that I’m kidding myself.
One of these days he’ll get off
at that fatal stop. He may not die
(although it’s possible) but he’ll do
something real foolish—or worse yet, do
nothing at all. Watch out—stepping
onto the great, wild steppe of eroticism
and longing is an ingenious trap.
A gesture, a mere glance can set worlds
ablaze. Goodbye, my friend. Goodbye.