Bad Hobby


Bad Hobby


"In this tenuous time, I’m so grateful for Fagan’s brilliant excavations of hospitals and pastures and classrooms and dreamscapes and how a body learns to live and to die.”—NATALIE SHAPERO
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From Kingsley Tufts Award finalist Kathy Fagan comes Bad Hobby, a perceptive collection focused on memory, class, and might-have-beens.

In a working-class family that considers sensitivity a “fatal diagnosis,” how does a child grow up to be a poet? What happens when a body “meant to bend & breed” opts not to, then finds itself performing the labor of care regardless? Why do we think our “common griefs” so singular? Bad Hobby is a hard-earned meditation on questions like these—a dreamscape speckled with swans, ghosts, and weather updates.

Fagan writes with a kind of practical empathy, lamenting pain and brutality while knowing, also, their inevitability. A dementing father, a squirrel limp in the talons of a hawk, a “child who won’t ever get born”: with age, Fagan posits, the impact of ordeals like these changes. Loss becomes instructive. Solitude becomes a shared experience. “You think your one life precious—”

And Bad Hobby thinks—hard. About lineage, about caregiving. About time. It paces “inside its head, gazing skyward for a noun or phrase to / shatter the glass of our locked cars & save us.” And it does want to save us, or at least lift us, even in the face of immense bleakness, or loneliness, or the body changing, failing. “Don’t worry, baby,” Fagan tells us, the sparrow at her window. “We’re okay.”

aging; birds; nature poetry; immigrant families; death; dementia; introversion; child-free; fertility; childhood; motherhood; teaching; solitude; loneliness; caretaking; women; gender
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8.5 × 6.5 × 0.25 in
5.5 oz

Kathy Fagan is the author of Bad Hobby and Sycamore, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award, as well as four previous collections including The Charm, the National Poetry Series-winning The Raft, and Vassar Miller Prize-winner MOVING & ST RAGE. A former NEA fellow, she is currently the Director of Creative Writing and the MFA program at Ohio State University, and Poetry Editor for OSU Press.

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