from the INTRODUCTION by Jared White

So if a book is an afterlife, why not have four? For these are indeed four separate books with their own forms and voices and preoccupations. KING OF THE FOREST—the title cleverly unites Jack Spicer’s wounded language lion with the title of one of fugitive novelist Benno von Archimboldi’s titles in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666—works in prose with the material of dreams, fantasy geographies and the sudden appearance of magical children, ghosts of childhood. LA LA LA fractures syllogisms, turning them inside out and reworking them into bass-voiced sexy soul-singer slow jams. THE WATERS steps into the footprints of Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce, gently inviting this paradigmatic work of modernist poetry to haunt a latter-day homage that is not a translation but, Starkweather instead suggests, a ‘transcontemporation.’ Residue of Vallejo—words rummaged through and arrayed like broken bits of stone—remain like a mineral deposit swirled into these poems that record the experience of a confrontation, a dialogue between ghosts. Bringing this passionate late-into-the-night conversation fully into the present, SELF HELP POEMS transfigures email dispatches into an exploration of poem-friendship and wounded, punch-drunk Harlequin-robocop masculinity. Disparate but kindred, these books are like four ecologically distinct quadrants of one realm, attractions in a Disneyland of poetry’s possibilities.

328 pp
9 x 6 in.
June 2013
ISBN 9780982617793



Seth Abramson at The Huffington Post

"The First 4 Books of Sampson Starkweather is (are) rife with the sorts of gestures we haven't seen in poetry in--well, perhaps never--and for this reason we must call this text not only thrillingly accessible, not only deeply thought-provoking, but also, and without exaggeration, historically important. This staggeringly ambitious debut collection is, in sum, to quote its author, 'the sound of a finger pointing to some/ unseen thing. To be reckoned with, or perhaps,/ reckoned by.'"


C.D. Wright introduces Sampson Starkweather and 5 poems from The Waters at PEN Poetry Series


Sampson Starkweather Interview with Mike Young for STARK WEEK @ HTMLGIANT


STARK WEEK @ HTMLGIANT on The First 4 Books of Sampson Starkweather: Melissa Broader, Bianca Stone, Amy Lawless, Sommer Browning, Elisa Gabbert, Jared White, Eric Amling, Jon Cotter, Jonathan Marshall, Matt Bollinger, and Mark Cugini


Sampson Starkweather Interview/Podcast with Ben Pease Part 2 (PART 1 of Interview here)



The boy, mostly seaweed, was born in the forest. Specifically, where the forest meets the sea—
a floor of dead things and trees that won’t budge to any music, that complain about their roots,
that don’t know if they are dead or not, that listen to the boy’s thoughts like a radio, occasionally
swaying to his anger or leaked dreams, but mostly that compose a darkness, a darkness that is
its own color, a darkness that opens up into a bright shoreless sea. The sea where everything,
eventually, ends.


from LA LA LA

I am small
but make
big music
if you could look
into my brain
it would look like
the sound of the emergency
broadcast system
as if we didn’t all
have an eagle
thrashing in our thorax
it’s time
to maim maims
once and for all
I’d like to bludgeon
violence to death
pardon me I didn’t see
your sheriff’s badge
believe me
I loved you
before roads
alive and in the air
I dreamed I dreamed
a radio melting
the sun
eventually everything falls
apart and resembles
we are always losing
but what
we have
finally become




Fuck the flood, this wake
would make a great movie-trailer
for Time and his henchmen. Some story…
always at the edge of its measure.
Select theaters in my head.


She left me with a cupboard full of weird teas,
pistol-whipped by desire and the world’s
saddest TV, tuned to suffering or
Charlie Rose— I take to the roof
to watch the moon rocking
its gold tooth.


Your hurricane name offends me.
That goat we placed our faith in,
perched on the fencepost, is gone.
Heartbreak vs. average rainfall
and gone is another way to say here.


The litter of blind things we found drowned
beneath the double-wide told us it would end like this:
we are very tired, we are very very,
we had gone back and forth all night on the very—
how does the dream get more dream?

The Water is Rising




This is what will happen. We will write a book. The slowest flower in the world
will begin to bloom. Our parents will grow old and die of diseases we will surely
inherit, and seemingly all at once. Our sisters and brothers, our friends and
family will all die. We will rent a car. Head for Brasilia. Bleed our dreams like
a 1,000 pound pig. You will die gracefully in the back seat to some music
that hasn’t been born yet, a map of the desert in your hand, lines scrawled
in handwriting I will later tell everyone is the official handwriting of the dead.
I will live for 300 more years, and die wrapped in a huge tropical leaf on an
island they will name after me, and we will never be forgotten by anyone
ever again.