About the Book
Erica Reid’s debut collection, Ghost Man on Second, traces a daughter’s search for her place in the world after estrangement from her parents. Reid writes, “It’s hard to feel at home unless I’m aching.” Growing from this sense of isolation, Reid’s stories create new homes in nature, in mythology, and in poetic forms—including sestinas, sonnets, and golden shovels—containers that create and hold new realizations and vantage points. Reid stands up to members of her family, asking for healing amid dissolving bonds. These poems move through emotional registers, embodying nostalgia, hurt, and hope. Throughout Ghost Man on Second, the poems portray Reid’s active grappling with home and confrontation with the ghosts she finds there.
Praise for Ghost Man on Second
Reid’s cunning and mellifluous debut makes the song of the everyday—a quarrel, the human body, an Ohio landscape—come alive in full-throated harmony. Her language is often clever (“There is a tooth/ in the word indentured”) as well as aurally and visually dynamic (“Shake a man, when you can, by his ribs./ Time is a cracked egg on a slick skillet”). . . . Come for the sonic joy of these poems, stay for Reid’s rich, self-searching meditations on family dysfunction.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Ghost Man on Second gives us grief and endurance, loss and joy, transmuted by the play of verse and imagination into poetry. Its thematic concerns deal with an absent father, suggested by the book’s title, the troubles and determination of a young mother alone, and how these conditions have affected their child. Dilemmas, hurts, yearnings, and elusive retrievals are magically changed by the poet’s sophisticated technical skill into living poems, works of art that invite reading and rereading. New forms, like the duplex, and old, like the sonnet sequence, offer us strong feeling and fresh wisdom and the remembered sense that these have always been what we expect from well-wrought poems. As the poet implies in one of her best, what is behind and above the artificial ceiling are forgotten depths of space and light. And the aim of our imaginary self wandering the world is eventually to make it home.
—Mark Jarman, author of Zeno’s Eternity
The speaker of the poems that compose Erica Reid’s Ghost Man on Second is well-acquainted with chaos and its antidote—“the diamond- / shaped cycle” of form, the capacity to tell the tale, to name, and poetry’s cradling music. The array of forms—from the Golden Shovel to the ghazal, the cat’s cradle sonnet to the sonnet crown that is situated in the belly of the book—is illuminative. One feels form’s necessity, the pressure of truth upon it. Each formal experiment provides a nest for the ghost, the angel, and the neglected child that haunt this book. Now and then, a rough upbringing and its consequent emptiness can incite a rare capacity for seeing and chronicling what is. “The trees’ white pulp is so thick on the trail / that my eyes first choose to believe / a rabbit’s warren has been ripped apart, / all that sacred belly fur scattered,” Reid writes, forever transforming the way I will see a cottonwood, a rabbit warren, and a poem. This is a book to re-read, and cherish.
—Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets