Lights & Mysteries

Thomas Centolella

This second collection of poems from award-winning poet Centolella mixes Zen and Hasidic philosophy with classical skepticism, resulting in imaginative and compassionate impressions of daily details of life in urban America. A finalist for the Bay Area Book Reviewers’ Award.

ISBN: 9781556591068

Format: Paperback


When it comes back to teach you
or you come back to learn
how half alive you’ve been,
how your own ignorance and arrogance
have kept you deprived—
when it comes back to you
or you yourself return,
joy is simple, unassuming.
Red tulips on their green stems.
Early spring vegetables, bright in the pan.
The primary colors of a child’s painting,
the first lessons, all over again.

About the Author

Thomas Centolella has authored four books of poetry: Terra Firma, Lights & Mysteries, Views from along the Middle Way, and Almost Human. His honors include the American Book Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the Dorset Prize, and publication in the National Poetry Series. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he has taught creative writing in the Bay Area for many years, including at the Institute on Aging …

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“Centolella’s direct approach is rich with the day-to-day, documenting commercial and spiritual transactions with intelligence, music, and gentle humor.” —Library Journal

“The poet primarily focuses on a wide-ranging array of straight-ahead narratives featuring characters of the street, misfits, and victims… these poems frequently take emotional risks that richly reward the reader.” —Choice

“With rich, imaginative prose and a finely-tuned ear for lyricism, [Centolella] examines the implications of everything he encounters.” —The Santa Fe New Mexican

“This is an exciting book—so much passion, compassion, humor, zest for living, sadness and big questions.” —Denise Levertov