The Interrogation

“Michael Bazzett’s poems are as tragic and unsettling as they are compelling and beautifully precise.”—ADA LIMÓN
Select Format

From the author of You Must Remember This, an uncanny collection of poems that plumbs our capacity for cruelty and for wonder.

Who? A speaker at once questioner and questioned. An artist who embraces and resists what his work requires of him. “A naked / man in a crowd.”

What? Poems at once surreal and vulnerable, refusing to hide their uncomfortable truths behind their wildest imaginings.

Where? In the mind, where “Nobody fails at meditation / like I do.” Outside dreamlike cities. In the rich earth under a simple mattress. In new, disorienting fables and seemingly familiar folktales.

When? As a child, spurning his mother. As a young man, seeking wisdom and peace. And as an older man, looking back at what he once was.

Suffused in psychology, uncertainty, and desire, The Interrogation is a catechism of the self—or selves. Inside this collection’s hall of mirrors, faces double and multiply endlessly, and voices echo, laugh, and taunt. Why? these poems ask. Why does art demand sacrifice? Why does the heart want what it wants? And how do we escape loneliness?

The Interrogation is an accomplished collection, unsparingly honest, infused with yearning and laced with dark humor.

Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.3 in
6 oz

Michael Bazzett

Michael Bazzett is the author of You Must Remember This, which received the 2014 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, The Interrogation, and most recently The Echo Chamber. He is also the translator of The Popol Vuh, the first English verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, which was named one a New York Times Best Book of 2018. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Ploughshares, The Sun, and Best New Poets. He is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and lives in Minneapolis.

Praise and Prizes

  • “Our lives are interrogated by strangeness in this brilliant collection by Michael Bazzett, his best yet. From the moment a city dissolved in the speaker’s absence, I knew this book was something special, and how special it is to read the record of Bazzett’s keen looking and bizarro dreaming. I didn’t know I wanted poems about moles being comets or pubic hair performance artists, but I did. I needed this book. I needed to laugh and wonder and wince and gasp. I needed to see all this glorious seeing. You need this book too. You need to walk through Bazzett’s funhouse and let these mirrors do their alchemy on you.”

    Danez Smith
  • “Michael Bazzett’s staggering new collection, The Interrogation, is the record of a poet curious about, and in dialogue with, absolutely everything. An island paradise? ‘No stallion land, / but good for goats.’ Death? ‘A hole behind him / in the exact shape of his life.’ If poems are buildings erected to house our wonder, then Bazzett has gifted us a metropolis—one teeming with life and endlessly hospitable to visitors. We are the beneficiaries of such good fortune, this generous making.”

    Kaveh Akbar
  • “Like any good surrealist, Bazzett uses laserlike precision to craft his images.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “Michael Bazzett’s poems are as tragic and unsettling as they are compelling and beautifully precise.”

    Ada Limón
  • “Bazzett encounters the disorienting juncture between fairy tale and nightmare in his latest collection… . Reminiscent of Russell Edson, his bizarre poems feature malevolence and a chilling atmosphere balanced by humor and twisted logic… . Bazzett’s simple lines and conversational language counterbalance the unnerving aspects that lurk beneath, never fully breaking the surface.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • The Interrogation reminds me that we always have the choice to revel in the striking strangeness of the world we live in, and that we do not have to accept anyone’s life at face value, especially our own. In this daringly disarming world built of wondrous and wondering words, cities have faces, moonlight is poured into aquariums, a man with no mouth speaks, mothers prank call their sons, and fire has many names. ‘Life is a joke best left unspoken,’ asserts the title poem, and the more I read of this adept and artful work, the more true that becomes. To read Michael Bazzett’s poems is to reach through the thick veil separating us from the most tender, timeless, and true parts of ourselves that we both dread and cherish. I hope everyone will read this book.”

    Tarfia Faizullah
  • “‘You don’t expect/our warmth/to be the thing/that obscures us,’ Michael Bazzett writes in a book that explores the limits of identity and definition. His work is a vivid reminder that imagination makes the world strange in order for us to see what we’ve forgotten or taken for granted. There’s also one stop shopping here, as you’ll get surrealism, lyricism, and narrative, often within the same poem, which makes his work both full and lithe. Best of all, he’s a poet who’ll take you where no one else can. You’ll want to stay there.”

    Bob Hicok
  • “In The Interrogation, Bazzett establishes himself a keen questioner of the eye and ear; a poet fully able to construct and inhabit this world, and those beyond, through lush aural and visual engagement. With the lyrical dexterity and sonic authority of a master craftsman, Bazzett gleans epistemic truths from both natural and preternatural sources and delivers crisp, unforced poems of sheer beauty. Readers will find themselves rapt by Bazzett’s audacious and perfect storm of song, symbol and earnest sight.”

    Airea D. Matthews
  • “Bazzett’s poems never fail to surprise on some level, and he is a master of the punch line… . This book is bursting with strange and haunting stories.”

    Valparaiso Poetry Review