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The Lookout Man

The Lookout Man

By Stuart DischellPublisher: University of Chicago PressISBN: 978-0-226817835Genre: PoetryPrice: $18.00, paperback

Sometimes elegiac, sometimes deadly comic, and always transformative, The Lookout Man embodies the energy, spirit, and craft that we have come to depend upon in Stuart Dischell’s poetry. Inhabiting a mix of lyric structures, these poems are set in diverse locales from the middle of the ocean to the summit of Mont Blanc, from the backyards of America to the streets of international cities. There is a hesitant, almost encroaching wisdom in The Lookout Man, as Dischell allows his edgy vision and singular perspectives to co-exist with the music of his poems. In lines that close the book and typify Dischell’s work, he writes, “I will ask the dogwoods to remind me // What it means to live along the edges of the woods, / To be promiscuous but bear white flowers.”

Stuart Dischell is the author of six collections of poetry, including Dig Safe, Backwards Days, and Children with Enemies. His first collection, Good Hope Road, was selected for the National Poetry Series, and he has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation. Dischell teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Dischell offers lines as odes to the world in which we live and of the world we too quickly forget. Within these poems there’s a haunting nostalgia wrestled into the present moment; yet, the deeper we delve, the past appears as clearly as a ‘lake at dawn / When the wind is still.’ These poems not only hold wisdom but they also hold ‘lives once so real and fragrant’ that all one can do is pour a glass of wine and read on with an open heart.

A. Van Jordan, author of Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic

A sumptuous melancholy suffuses the poems in Dischell’s outstanding collection. Like the wind itself, Dischell voyages ‘across the wide seas . . .’ bringing us the great and small of human existence—cities, politics, battleships, baked apples, polka-dot sheets, and above all, our human selves, vulnerable to loss and the ravages of time.

Ellen Bass, author of Indigo

Dischell is the American heir to the European poets, Szymborska, Tranströmer, and Salamun with his wit, loving skepticism, and ever-present sense of the tragic. With poems that evoke Dischell’s Litvak heritage, and the unforgiving American experience of assimilation, in The Lookout Man, Dischell reminds us of the essential gift of dedicated endurance. This tender, very human book is haunted by time, and attentive to the fragile, fleeting things of the world and the heart. And yet, while Dischell chronicles this heartbreak of the daily, like Zagajewski, in the end he keeps casting ‘lines that believe in the future’ and it is the unexpected gold of life that shines through.

Ellen Hinsey, author of The Illegal Age