Featured by the Evanston IL Public Library!

Happy to have HEAT WAKE as the featured book for this month at the website of the Evanston IL Public Library!  https://evanstonpubliclibrary.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/poetry-365-jason-zuzga/#more-22265evanston-public-library-90

“This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting the impressive debut collection from poet Jason Zuzga.  In Heat Wake, the FENCE editor meditates on desire, the complexities of time, and the natural world while traveling through the silent Arizona desert into the suburban New Jersey of his youth.  Poet Kevin Killian raves, “For the anatomical sensations he observes, the tenderness of his sentences, his insatiate curiosity, and his experience of surrealism, we might consider Jason Zuzga the Oliver Sacks of poetry.”  So check out Heat Wake, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.”


I store my easterlies in a black box.
I close it to hear sounds at arroyo’s edge,
dry as skull, dry as silver.
Listen, stray letters
pinch air. t t bz k

The sky veins with electricity.
Perspiration breaks down,
the ground blond and blind, hot deer
hoof the riprap and find you there,
eating soy-milked cereals or popsicles.
You think you can live here.
Sun blinds you.

The readymade earth is fat
because it is spinning. The dark interior bodiness
apples open with a stumble down onto these
broken stones. Erosion a process that
doesn’t happen here.
Some forms of silence flourish in the purpose gap.

In a house on the rock live two people.
They die and dry odorless.
In a pocket in the rock
lives a desiccated festival
of toads and beetles waiting for a dull rain.

Moths move among the tall cactuses.
The desert likes the moths because they are silent and dry
and about to die–adult trash in the air.

The desert wears its cactuses like a whale wears lice.
Whales breach to bang itches out of their crevices.
The sounds flick off. Please.
The desert would like to be alone.



Review by Frank Montessonti


Frank reviews HEAT WAKE on his blog:

Heat WakeHeat Wake
Jason Zuzga
Saturnalia Books, 2016
Full Disclosure: Jason Zuzga is a friend of mine, but I have no connection to Saturnalia books.

It is such a pleasure to finally see a Jason Zuzga book in print. To say this book has been long-awaited by many, many poets is an under, understatement. I was in grad school with Jason in Tucson, 2001. I loved his work back then; everyone did. I don’t know why this collection took so long to bring into the world. Maybe Jason wasn’t submitting enough. Maybe presses couldn’t see what a wild, original, talented mind this guy has. Or maybe the book just took this long to come to its final form. I’m hardly one to talk about publishing slowly.

Anyway, it’s here now and it’s really good.

Heat Wake is everything I am excited about in poetry now. The poems feel odd as the spores on a fern plant at one moment and polished as a limousine the next. You just have no idea where he might go next in such a delightful way. And it always works because the poems are extensions of life and personality more than exercises in craft (though they are also very skillful). I guess what I’m trying to say is that they’re not trying to be something. They are that thing. That is Zuzga’s mind. There are fun, wild associative leaping and tender personal moments, history and science; and everything odd seems personal and everything personal odd. And there is a closeness and humanity to it all underneath. Quoting lines don’t do his work justice, so I’m just going to quote a whole poem here.

Your Age on Other Worlds

Greased surfers on the right,
oil pumping up the left – you drive down the crease
of California as the convexities of boys become
heightened on the waves.

I will guess your age on other worlds.
Stretched into sixteen on all of them. Mine.
When Neptune hurls back around to where it is now
these boys will be decaying
not tucked into their skins not tucked into their wetsuits
not sixteen not alive not riding the waves off California
rubbing itself the way a back shifts.

One night one boy is hurling through time to
the instant he will pass you in the supermarket.
His liverspotted hand a vortex shoves you through
gliding up the crest of time to California.
The pumpers suck sweet sip of time’s decay.

The car drives past you down the crease burning rubber.
The oncoming night glides open and closes and pulses.
Observers lightyears away longingly watch wave
lift you. Look back now to where we were before
this got started – star collapsing,
insane and greedy in the dark.

I mean who does this! Who connects time travel and the sleek bodies of surfers and drive down the coast in such a strange and beautiful way? This collection gets me really pumped about poetry again. Seriously, I would trade this one poem for a dozen other full collections I have read in the past year.

I could go on and on about all the poems in this collection, but this collection makes you want to write your own poems because it just humms with an infectious vitality. So, just use your internets and order it now. You must have it in your life and on your shelf.

Audio Interview at Ursinus College


• Neural networks functioning like a poem
• The potential for poems inside the body
• Connections between poetry and science
• Buying his own book on Amazon when it came out so he could experience opening it up
• Thinking of a stanza break as a commercial break
• Similarities between film editing and writing poetry
• The time he sang “Camp Town Races” to a bear