Cover Art: Miguel Rothschild
Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer
Paperback, 82 pages
May 14, 2019, ISBN 978-1-936919-70-3
About Brandon Courtney
Brandon Courtney is a veteran of the United States Navy and the author of This, Sisyphus (YesYes Books, 2019), Rooms for Rent in the Burning City (Spark Wheel Press, 2015), The Grief Muscles (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014), and the chapbook Inadequate Grave (YesYes Books, 2016), which won the 2017 Eric Hoffer Chapbook Award. He has received fellowships and scholarships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Colgate University, Juniper Summer Writers’ Institute, and Seaside Writers’ Conference. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, Tin House, Boston Review, Guernica, Memorious, The Progressive, and American Literary Review.
This, Sisyphus by Brandon Courtney
About This, Sisyphus
Metaphysical in scope, transcendent in language, This, Sisyphus makes malleable received forms and rhyme to articulate what it means to face incalculable loss. Centered on the death and subsequent repatriation of a sailor who was the author’s lover and closest friend, this collection moves beyond elegiac gestalt, questioning instead a God who created an imperfect world in which death is possible and inevitable. Composed of four sections, This, Sisyphus is a rejection of Leibniz’s "best possible world,” and, more importantly, it is the author’s transubstantiated epiphany that, ultimately, in tragedy and suffering, we have only each other.
Whether wrestling God or trying to make sense and sound out of grief, Brandon Courtney’s This, Sisyphus is a bright, urgent addition to the elegiac canon. My lord, folks, the language Courtney has found here interrupted me. Such a deep well of grief matched with such a high zenith of lyric, just as it should be. Written exquisitely and vulnerably, this is a book for anyone seeking to wander back towards the light after travelling through Death’s valley.
-Danez Smith, author of Don’t Call Us Dead and [insert] boy
Trenchant, Achillean mourning soaks this book’s extraordinary sonic terrain with its indelible weight. What more definitive shape of haunting is there, This, Sisyphus implores, than finding the beloved imbuing that one element which overwhelms the recognizable world—Ocean, contained and unappeasable in all forms conventional and nonce, carnal and inanimate. Courtney’s erotic, erosive soldier’s psalms enunciate the guilt of doing what one can with the awful gift of a human life in the aftermath of another’s destruction, “building a new language / from what you left inside.”
-Justin Phillip Reed, author of Indecency