The eagerly anticipated second collection by poet and esteemed critic Stephen Burt
Flaunting your useless knowledge has failed you again,
Though it was all they had taught you.
—from “Like a Wreck”
Consult any childhood development guide and you’ll find the term “parallel play”: when children under two are placed together, they’ll play separately but won’t interact. They are more fascinated with their immediate surroundings than with each other.
Stephen Burt’s second collection of poems, Parallel Play, describes lovers, friends, travelers, and revelers attempting lives dependent on each other but still pulled inevitably into preoccupations of their own self-awareness. When there are many obstacles—overeducation, narcissism, extended adolescence, nomadic existence—how can Americans crawl out of the nursery and coexist if they increasingly have to learn to do so as adults?