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Losers Dream On

We are all losing all the time. Four titanic forces—time, mortality, forgetting, and confusion—win victories over us each day. We all “know” this yet we keep dreaming of beautiful fulfillments, shapely culminations, devotions nobly sustained—in family life, in romance, in work, in citizenship. What obsesses Halliday in Losers Dream On is how to recognize reality without relinquishing the pleasure and creativity and courage of our dreaming.
            Halliday’s poetry exploits the vast array of dictions, idioms, rhetorical maneuvers, and tones available to real-life speakers (including speakers talking to themselves). Often Halliday gives a poem to a speaker who is distressed, angry, confused, defensive, self-excusing, or driven by yearning, so that the poem may dramatize the speaker’s state of mind while also implying the poet’s ironic perspective on the speaker. Meanwhile, a few other poems (for instance “A Gender Theory” and “Thin White Shirts” and “First Wife” and “You Lament”) try to push beyond irony into earnestness and wholehearted declaration.  The tension between irony and belief is the engine of Halliday’s poetry.

80 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Phoenix Poets



" 'And you try to be awake,' growls Mark Halliday. These poems are fully awake, practicing vivisection on their own delusions, complacencies, and sublimities, carving into the tissue of language. Song here sounds more like invoice than voice. Yet its wit reveals the timeless: sorrow for a dying father, a lost wife, and the core recognition of our 'dustitude.' A remarkable book."

Rosanna Warren

“Reading Losers Dream On is like listening in on the constantly shifting, uncomfortable thoughts of a mind brilliantly attuned to the world of memory and to its own intricate (often hilarious) processes. These poems take place in landscapes that seem familiar at first—snow-covered parking lots, an empty Mexican restaurant, airport gates crowded with travelers—but, under Mark Halliday’s gaze, they become dazzling and strange, filled with troublesome knowledge and the possibility of mortality and transcendence. Witty, exciting, and wide-awake, Halliday is one of the best poets at work in America today.”

Kevin Prufer

“Mark Halliday is one of our foremost technicians of the American vernacular. In Halliday's poems, James Joyce, Leave It To Beaver, and Sir Walter Raleigh all get their turn at the microphone. I admire Halliday's dedication to coherence, self-interrogation, and endless verbal playfulness. His voice is one of the most reliable, hilarious, effervescent, and moody pleasures in the contemporary canon. His rich new collection, Losers Dream On, holds its own with the high standard of his best work.”

Tony Hoagland

Table of Contents

Bus Full of Dinosaurs
First Wife
Ernest and Lionel
Hal Dead
He Meant
Index to Hamaday: A Questionable Life
Thirteen Balloons
66 Benevolent Street
About Time
Yearbook Photo
Your New Assignment
Maria’s Mexican Food
Thin White Shirts
Milano Adesso
Bird’s Shadow
Balancing Act
Tossed Cup
Not Exactly for Talia
Freedom of Speech
Shark Fate
Almost Dusk
After the Major Events
Angel at Wilkes
Their First Marriage
Sarah Sees Two Runners
A Gender Theory
The Quilmias
Your Paltry Conquests
Been There
Our Love Problem
Midnight, the Stars, and You
You Lament
Not Nothing
Whisk Broom
Rolf Smedvig in Particular
But Also
My Other Apartment
Plot Twist
No Vacation for Maigret

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