New Review of HEAT WAKE

Very happy to read this in-depth review by Christopher Nelson Bowcutt:


“…Zuzga shows us that behind the hallucinatory hides truths we don’t know yet. (Remember, the Fool is the smartest person in the room.) In “Lullaby” he writes, “Watcher, companion / as the final solar storms begin. / There is a house inside your medulla oblongata. / There, retract now and reduce.” Comical and sometimes metaphysical, Zuzga deftly employs conceits to illustrate difficult truths. My new favorite simile is in “Brother Poem,” where ambulance men carry the speaker’s ill father across the front yard in a wheelchair “like C3PO mistaken / for an Ewok god.” The loss of the father, the complexities of time and love—traditional lyric concerns woven together with iconic images from pop culture create a world deeply felt and wonderfully habitable.”

Publishers Weekly Review

The first review of Heat Wake, from Publishers Weekly, is in…. read it here and below…

Zuzga’s debut collection grows out of the intersection of myth and nature, like a simmering volcano of animal intensity that occasionally erupts in expressions that alternate between euphoria and lament. He establishes this strange amalgam from the opening lines of the first poem: “All rocks are queer. By this I mean/ I’m gay.” In “Love Poem,” Zuzga recalls a melancholic youth in the dark shadow of an emerging queer identity (“I was angry at myself for being a teenaged mermaid”) and tinges of this same sadness appear at other moments in the collection. “I may have exceeded the number of allowable/ falls-in-love,” he sighs. Animals appear everywhere, including bats, sharks, “hot deer,” and an extinct Steller’s Sea Cow that munches “on sea lettuce the color/ of absinthe.” Zuzga also meditates on the distinctions between human and nonhuman animal as scientists observe an array of marine life. In the title poem, he gets futuristic, imagining the cyborg “not-yet elephants of Mars.” The book’s third section (of six), “Electric Clocks Don’t Tick,” revolves around Zuzga’s suburban New Jersey childhood and features Aunt Dottie’s “sun tea,” adventures with Encyclopedia Brown, and a surprisingly tender bathroom inventory. These gentle touches bloom all the more brightly under Zuzga’s zoological bell jar, placing a real human heartbeat in the menagerie. (Mar.)

University Press of New England Catalog Page live for HEAT WAKE

Heat Wake
Jason Zuzga

Publication date: March 15, 2016
2016 • 96 pp. 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″
Poetry / Poetry – Gay & Lesbian

$16.00 Paperback, 978-0-9962206-2-0

“Charming, witty, and science-y smart, these debut collection poems pop with volleys of youthful and wise acts, tactics, maneuvers, catastrophes, scenes, and did I mention love poems overrunning!”—Jane Miller

Mixing science with humor, humanity, whimsy, and love, Jason Zuzga’s debut collection is a revelation

In Heat Wake, the reader encounters nature in myriad forms, all crafted from the unusual perspective of a poet astonished by the world and at work among the queerness of life, the odd sweetness of other people, the city, nature, love, and humanity. The poems unfold amid the presence of stubborn rocks, the vast ocean and its shores, the intimate details of a suburban New Jersey landscape. The book’s exuberant poems take a journey through time itself: the limited time of humans versus time evolutionary and geological. The poems present in rollicking, playful language and joyful imagery, glancing at the infinite and at the future imagined from the desert in Arizona to Mars.

Spring 2016 Courses

Excited to find out that I’ll be teaching two classes in Spring 2016 at UPenn –

ENG 088: Twentieth-Century American Poetry

We will read — Hart Crane, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ofelia Zepeda, Amiri Baraka, Jack Spicer, Agha Shahid Ali, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer, Claudia Rankine — among many others!

ENGL 102 601 (2016A)
The Uncanny in Literature:  Haunted Houses and Habitats

In this class we will begin by entering the haunted house of literature and film: the domestic transformed by the presence of something strange—the figure in the mirror, the odd thump, the sliding chair…the man-eating piano. Not only in dwellings designed and built, we will go on to explore literary and cinematic spaces that have become saturated with the presence of threat, of the doppelgänger, of the monstrous–places where lingering spirits dwell among the living. How and why does the book or tale or film work to introduce the audience into such spooky places, how do they make them believable? The appeal and thrill of the uncanny is undeniable; we will both enjoy the weird and yet also think beyond the thrill and spookiness to grasp what is at stake in such tales–for our own experience of our own domesticity, our lived environments, and our own sense of home. Such tales reveal our anxieties about security and familiarity, and they perhaps ease these through exposure. How can we interpret the ways in which such tales are resolved, in terms of family, gender, ethnicity, culture and the lingering presence of architecture and landscape itself? Through a study of architecture of the haunted place, we will come to better understand the architecture not only of the story and film itself, but of the way we go on living in our own lives in the aftermath of tragedy and uncertainty. Works to be studied will be selected from but not limited to films such as Poltergeist (Dir, Tobe Hooper 1982), The Conjuring (Dir. James Wan 2013), The Amityville Horror (Dir. Stuart Rosenberg 1979), House (Dir. Nobuhiko Ôbayashi 1977), The Spirit of the Beehive (Dir. Víctor Erice 1973), Night and Fog (Alain Resnais 1955), Hiroshima mon Amour (Dir. Alain Resnais 1959) and novels and stories such as Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown, The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Jolly Corner” by Henry James,The Turn of Screw by Henry James, Ashe of Rings by Mary Butts, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko, Ghosts by César Aira, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Haunted Houses by Lynne Tillman, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola, We Wish to Inform Your Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch, excerpts from American Horror Story: Asylum, and American Horror Story: Hotel (which we will watch over the course of the semester in its entirety as it airs, perhaps also along with Fear the Walking Dead). We will watch Slavoj Zikek’s A Perverts Guide to Cinema (2006) as a partial guide, and we will complement our reading of these fictions and non-fictions wth selections from such works asThe Spectralities Reader: Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory, Freud’s essays “The Uncanny” and “Mourning and Melancholia,” Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism by Mike Davis,  Julie Kristeva’s Powers of HorrorSpace, Place and Gender by Doreen Massey, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias” by Michel Foucault,  Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History by Cathy Carruth, The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subject by Renée L. Bergland, Space & Psyche by Elizabeth Danze and Stephen Sonnenberg, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely by Anthony Vidler and Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski.




“From zoos to aquariums, from the shows of Animal Planet to Jaws to the March of the Penguins to Happy Feet, why do people long to be able to witness and gaze upon the figures and experiences of animals in both documentary and narrative cinema, television, and video? What hopes and fears do we project upon the animal, what do with learn from the animal? Cinema traces its roots back to two key inquiries into animal motion by Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey. We will move from those early innovators to interrogate a number of films that foreground the lives of animals, such as those that foreground animal consciousness and endangerment, such as Blackfish, asking what might be the difficulties and paradoxes in doing so. Our investigation will range from videos in which cameras have been physically attached to a animal, to films where the animal is either a vortex of cuteness, such as various viral Youtube videos, life-threatening presence, as in Grizzly Man, Jaws, The Birds, saviors, as in Flipper, or all of the above, as in the rat thriller Ben. We will watch experimental films in which the question of the human in relation to the animal is central, as well as some of the recent documentaries exposing abusive treatment. How might we compare the eye of the animal to the eye of the camera? Students will be required to film animals and to discuss challenging materials across a variety of media, and to complete a research project involving medium-specificity and human-animal relations.”

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My Dog Tulip (Dir. Paul Fierlinger, 2009) PREVIEW


Heat Wake, Jason Zuzga’s debut poetry collection, will be published by Saturnalia Books on March 15, 2016.

Jason Zuzga

Jason Zuzga