A National Book Critics Circle Award and Oregon Book Award Finalist

The world is terrifying and exhilarating. Believing firmly in the romantic notion that “embellishment is love,” Allan Peterson in Fragile Acts combines the intellectual force of T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens, the ethereal wonder of Robert Hass, and the tight lyric beauty of Elizabeth Bishop and Donald Hall. These steely, wide-ranging poems are at once personal and philosophical, incisive and meditative—funny, serious, compassionate, and searching. Juxtaposing the fast pace of contemporary society with the quiet localism and naturalism of the great American transcendentalists, Peterson’s sinewy, muscular collection reveals a profoundly intelligent, curious mind leaping from object to thought to emotion. And yet, poem after poem, Peterson somehow binds seemingly unrelated elements into one stunning whole. Peterson has readers nodding their heads in reflection one moment and laughing out loud the next. These moving poems are a profound delight to read.

Check out the McSweeney’s Books Preview of Fragile Acts right here, and the author Q & A right here.

Praise for Fragile Acts:

“Like ‘Brazil’s undiscovered caverns of amethyst’, Allan Peterson’s Fragile Acts is a major find.”
—John Ashbery

” A wonder to behold and a joy to read. Allan Peterson’s poems dance to the music of time, like light on water or wind in the trees.”
—Lewis Lapham

“Allan Peterson’s collection Fragile Acts is a spacewalk on the wild side. I loved it. He puts music to the tension between the desperate human experience and the cool removal of the cosmos. His poems are refreshingly discrete artifacts—perfected and edgy—raw at the same time. They stand alone but gain power in one another’s presence. This is an exciting new voice, one we’ve been waiting for.”
—Laura Kasischke

“These poems rarely veer far from a well-defined reality that is often rooted in the natural world, fleabane, fish, fast clouds, osprey, and spider, but at the center of that world, and deeply embedded in it, is a thoughtful meditative speaker who both marvels at and raises insightful rhetorical questions about his place among so much mystery. His observing eye, as astute as the most finely-honed telephoto lens, is such that he¹s able to transform even the ordinary into something so exquisite it provokes wonder and awe.”
—Mary Jo Bang

“Allan Peterson’s Fragile Acts introduces us to a poet capable of changing from the personal and interior to the global and exterior in a single work, sometimes in a single line.”
Shelf Awareness

“Peterson is one of our most valuable poet-thinkers and thinker-poets, a writer who can show us how much is within our grasp and much is beyond it.”
LA Review of Books

“[Allan Peterson’s] work demands, and deserves, attention.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Allan Peterson’s meditations on domestic tranquility and ecocatastrophe are so smart that they could actually make you smarter”
Boston Review

“Soul-poppingly magnetic”
The Rumpus

“Though Peterson occasionally leads you like Wile E. Coyote into thin air, he is more likely to deliver you. He is a glissando in words.”
The Brooklyn Rail

“A page-turner in the truest sense.”
The Cossack Review

“This is a book that belongs in your hands.”
Hey Small Press

Praise for Allan Peterson’s previous work:

“No other poet—to judge by this third book, As Much As—focuses so fully on the inward effects of apparently inconsequential observations; no other poet makes them speak so well.… Peterson’s visual gifts… can make most other poets seem like they aren’t really looking.… Peterson’s world has grandeur.”
—Stephen Burt, Boston Review

“Peterson (Anonymous Or) tracks the vicissitudes, oddities and noteworthy tangents of a contemporary household with originality: he cares not just for how things look or for how we feel, but for the ways in which our habits make us make mistakes about ourselves and about the people with whom we share our lives.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

“[Allan Peterson] creates a language infused with invention and surprise, delight and disharmony all cast in a tough and tender compression that gives Anonymous Or a verbal velocity that feels utterly fresh and original, apocalyptic and person—and impressively new in American poetry.”
—J.P. White, judge, 2001 Defined Providence Press Poetry Competition