Troy Jollimore teaches philosophy at Chico State University, and his philosophical sensibility informs his poetry as he explores the intersection of inner and outer experience. "Truth be told," the poet writes in "The Solipsist," "the whole place, / everything that the eye / can take in, to the sky / and beyond into space, // lives inside of your skull." But that "raises a question // that comes up again and again, / as to why / God would make ear and eye / to face outward, not in?"
The poem is included in a masterful collection, "At Lake Scugog" ($16.95 in paperback from Princeton University Press, $9.99 in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook e-book). Jollimore won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his first collection, "Tom Thomson in Purgatory," and the new book, part of the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets, includes fourteen poems that get inside the head of a mellower Tom Thomson.
The book's publication was celebrated last Thursday at the Blue Room Theatre with a literary event sponsored by Lyon Books in Chico.
In the title poem, "who I am / maintains an uneasy truce / with who I fear I am. ..." In "Meme, I, Self, and Eye: Fifteen Self-Portraits," the poet is "An inward facing projector / lighting a screen / that is its own audience."
But there is another out there, "On Location": "Even in the midst of silence the words of my language swarmed around me like flies. // Even in the midst of that swarm I could hear the director shouting Action! / Even in the midst of all that action I managed to take your hand. // Even in the midst of that swarm, that song, that silence, I found the resolve to kiss you. / Even in the midst of that kiss I knew you and I would end up on the cutting room floor."
Yet, in "To His Lover," "If you mistake me for / a solid and persisting thing, we both / will come to tears. Whereas, if you but grasp / the truth of what I am--then we'll still come / to tears; but there may first be time, before / this doom arrives, to get some kissing in."