From the poet whose stunning debut was praised as “transcendent” by Kevin Young and “steadily confident” by Carl Phillips, Dangerous Goods tracks its speaker throughout North America and abroad, illuminating the ways in which home and place may inhabit one another comfortably or uncomfortably—or both, simultaneously.
From the Bahamas, London, and Cairo to Bemidji, Minnesota, and Milledgeville, Georgia, Sean Hill interweaves the contemporary with the historical, and explores with urgency the relationships among travel, migration, alienation, and home. Here, playful “postcard” poems addressed to Nostalgia and My Third Crush Today sit alongside powerful reflections on the immigration of African Americans to Liberia during and after the era of slavery. Such range and formal innovation make Hill’s second collection both rare and exhilarating. Part shadowbox, part migration map, part travelogue-in-verse, Dangerous Goods is poignant, elegant, and deeply moving.
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Praise and Prizes
“Measuring the ‘distance between desires’ and the fear and possibilities of displacement, Sean Hill’s brilliant new book will make your heart skip ‘like those flat stones that kiss the skin / of the pond and fly off again.’ Where Hill’s first book was an evocation of his Georgia homeplace, Dangerous Goods travels widely and well, from nineteenth-century Liberia to present day Minnesota, from ‘Blacks on Boats’ to postcards written to nostalgia and regret. Channeling Richard Hugo and Jay Wright, Hill’s poignant, pointed poetry is a divining rod, knowing well that the dark is ‘an ocean for us all.’”
“Sean Hill is a fastidious thinker. His poetry takes the facts and figures of history and weaves all of us into its fabric. His imagination soars like a long-winged ancient bird. We ride on his back on every page looking out over the territory of his mind, a tenacious wise flight, worth the wind.”
“Through the distances of import and export, road trips and cruises, experience and memory, Sean Hill helps us figure our own distances—what has happened for us as individuals, as Americans, and citizens of the world.”
“Dangerous Goods is a warning sign posted on vehicles of transport, and the varieties of transport contemplated in this large-hearted book encompass a world of dangers. What tempers the darkness in these marvelous poems is an equally capacious construction of ‘goods’: the ties of love and longing, the elegant modulations of season and place, above all the flexible cadences and recuperations of poetry. Sean Hill has written a book to be grateful for.”
“Dangerous Goods represents the full range of exilic engagement, the omnivorous curiosity of a restless traveler with no set home to return to this side of memory. The speakers in these poems roam vast spaces, ‘everything excised’ but the past.”
G. C. Waldrep