“can I say he is / my painful joy,” asks Father’s Day, Matthew Zapruder’s fifth poetry collection. Poetically confident and personally uneasy, these clear, musical poems bring forth the events and inner questions that shape the life of a new father, a husband, a citizen attempting to think clearly as a nation convulses and changes. The title refers not just to our nuclear families, but to our problematic, limited, founding fathers. Heroes and would-be villains are named and unnamed—called into conversation—as old norms are questioned. Public enemies are condemned then kissed on their dry, hateful lips. In the lucid dream life of these poems, the personal and political intertwine, and illuminate each other. Self-deprecating yet with characteristic directness, Father’s Day calls out to the privileged collective, urging us to remember that “the children sleeping / alone in some / detention center / don’t need / our brilliant sincerity.” The poems urge us to leave behind our self-delusions, in the hopes of actual, meaningful change. In “Late Humanism,” a prose afterword, Zapruder continues his exploration of the purpose of poetry, and reveals relevant biographical information about his experiences as a parent and political being in the twenty-first century.
“Firmly situated in its (and our) political moment, and anchored by a compelling gravity and urgency… [Father’s Day] makes clear that there is a great deal at stake.” —Washington Post
“Zapruder’s verse offers solace and an invaluable blueprint for empathy.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“One of our funniest, most technically virtuous poets enters an intimate, new stage of work in his moving fifth collection.” —John Freeman, Literary Hub
“A profoundly heartfelt and thoughtful book for all readers.” —Library Journal
“It’s the reach, the attention to daily life and the dream world we simultaneously inhabit, that gives Zapruder’s work its distinctive force.” —Alta Magazine
“Father’s Day is a community of teachers, sons, poets, partners—a book praising lineage, and a book that tries to reconcile the problems with praising lineage. Zapruder’s poems, with their attention to the music of speech, give readers the chance to enjoy these inflections, to say hello to everyone in the poet’s small town.” —The Adroit Journal
Finalist, Northern California Book Award in Poetry, 2020