In Ersatz Anatomy, Steven Sherrill speaks after the realization, after the obsessively over-considered, after the redrawn scenarios of our lives. On the surface, these poems play with language, sound, and a self-conscious voice—yet they are haunted by atonement. The self-indictment of this speaker becomes the subject of many poems, the meeting of the smart aleck and the tender in all of us. Sherrill is relentless in his questioning, until he runs into the wall of the miraculous: the natural world, the lover, the child—and there the romantic cracks it all open, casting us deep into the land of beauty and desire.
—Jan Beatty, author of Red Sugar and Bone Shaker
“Beyond hunger more hunger / learn to eat the emptiness,” Steven Sherrill chants in his stunning poetry debut. Yet Ersatz Anatomy is full of presences of all kinds—black walnuts cracked between bricks, dead or foundering alewives, Einstein and Longinus resurrected, Drepung Tehor Monks surfacing unexpectedly in rural Pennsylvania, and the dead Christ crashing into the same world as a transformed and living Caliban. Sherrill’s poetic gifts are considerable, but it’s his imagination that opens the backdoor to the attic of the world and allows us to crawl in. As the poet unflinchingly asserts, “This is not an apology,” and with that backhanded blessing we are absolved of any need to ask for forgiveness for the joy and wonder and pain these poems will bring in their reading. But one note of caution: the poet means it when he says, “I’ll show you everything / if you don’t stop me.”
—Todd Davis, author of The Least of These and Some Heaven, Winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize