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This Clumsy Living

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  466 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
I watched the young couple walk into the tall grass and close the door of summer behind them, their heads floating on the golden tips, on waves that flock and break like starlings changing their minds in the middle of changing their minds, I saw their hips lie down inside those birds, inside the day of shy midnight, they kissed like waterfalls, like stones that have travel ...more
Paperback, 101 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by University of Pittsburgh Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jan 18, 2016 Abeer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, america, 21stc
I started reading poetry in my early to mid teens, I started with a recommendation from a librarian to read David Lehman's Best American Poetry, so, pretty much, my first encounter with poetry was poetry fairly similar to Hicock's. Thats not to say that Lehman's poetry isn't diverse, it's to say that he and his editors tend to have a similar pattern, and thats very normal considering the theme is always contemporary american poetry. I've been reading poetry regularly for maybe 8 years now, and m ...more
Timothy Green
Nov 25, 2008 Timothy Green rated it really liked it
Hicok seems like he has a perpetual stream of poetry running through his head at all times, and he just occasionally sits down to transcribe it. All the poems in the book feel like they could have started at any point, and continued to any length. Far from a negative, the effect is inspiring.
May 07, 2009 James rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry-poetics
I'm happy I read this, but I'm not sure how much I'll take from it except for a part from one long poem where he praises his dog for eating deer shit:

she is coprophagous, a beautiful word
for this habit of finding use in waste

Sometimes I tell her no (from "My faith-based initiative")

Also, there is a long prose poem around the middle of the book ("A letter: the Genesis poem") that offers this little gem on immigration: "Many people here don't want elsewhere people to become here people."

Bob Hicok
May 02, 2007 martha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like awesome, accessible poetry.
Shelves: poetry
Bob Hicok is one of my favorite poets and I was so excited to get my hands on this when it came out last month. Bob Hicok is fantastic. There's something really blunt and real in his poems. Publisher's Weekly compares him to Billy Collins, but I think he's a lot more like Jeffrey McDaniel, although he takes it a step further than either of them (maybe quite a few steps further than Collins -- sorry, Billy). Um, I want to say tons of smart stuff about it, but I can't, it's just great. The poems I ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 13, 2011 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Nancy Pearl on NPR
Shelves: poetry, read2011
Hicok surprises me in his writing. He manages to combine things that don't seem related and suddenly you stumble into something so thoughtful and eloquent, it feels a bit mind blowing. I went back and re-read many of these. I think you start to see traces of the idea of his wife being sick in one of them, and if you go on to read Words for Empty and Words for Full, this will become even more apparent.
Ryan Bollenbach
May 24, 2013 Ryan Bollenbach rated it it was amazing
Wish I could give this 4 1/2 stars.

This has some of my favorite work from Bob Hicok ever (In Michael Robinson's class is the first poem I ever read from him, and a poem I keep coming back to time and time again for inspiration in my work, Theoretical Love is also a great one), though there are a ton of poems in this collection and the energy and quality isn't necessarily sustained throughout.
Lynnea Taylor
Apr 17, 2013 Lynnea Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Arguably my favorite modern poet. He has a way, with simple words, to draw the reader into a subject under layers and layers of thought. My favorite one in this series is titled, "Team effort" and I read that one at least five times. I love his wry sensibility and deep contemplation which surfaces so effortlessly in each verse. This is what makes him my favorite I think, that he makes it look effortless- when writing poetry, excellent poetry, is truly never effortless.
Mar 02, 2011 sirin rated it it was amazing
great collection by a great poet. hicok has a way of bringing everyday, understated occurrences and feelings to rupture. immensely talented and highly addictive. after i finished this collection i went and bought every single collection he ever put out, all of which exceeded my expectations.

also just a note, i never liked poetry until i read hicok and something about his talent, it's subtlety and almost it's meekness just wins you over. if you are a fan of franz wright, you will enjoy hicok.
Dec 20, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
Picking a poet isn't easy. People find poetry hard to appreciate but I think it's only hard to appreciate if you've reading the wrong the poet, If you're reading someone else's poet. You have to find one that you naturally connect with. I've found one. His name is Bob Hickok. He's my poet, so like anyone who calls their kid the best kid, I call Bob Hicok the best poet.

This book inspired me to create a youtube show:
Jul 27, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
More poetry. I thought I liked this book quite a lot when I read only the highlights, or heard them. Read all together, Hicok has hits and misses; however, he is the master of the poetic digression and can make lists of completely unrelated things into a tight argument about something not mentioned at all. His blue-collar background gives an accessible and personable tone to his work.
May 06, 2013 Maggie rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-13
There were some astonishingly beautiful poems in this collection, especially in the middle of the book, but there was an equal number (maybe more) that fell flat for me. The high points were worth 5 stars, but I couldn't justify giving the book a higher rating because of how many poems didn't click for me. It's still definitely worth a read, though.
Colin Bailes
Nov 02, 2010 Colin Bailes rated it really liked it
When I write a poem, I look at things in a very literal sense and utilize my personal experiences. Reading This Clumsy Living helped me look at things with a metaphysical eye and helped me with figurative language as well. Also, the book helped me to not be afraid with starting a poem from where you are sitting, then looking outward through thought.
May 23, 2014 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
This is another fantastic collection from Hicok, possibly my new favorite poet. I would rate this book just a touch less complete than Elegy Owed, but there are still amazing moments on almost every page. An absolute joy.
Amber Clark
Jun 11, 2007 Amber Clark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
really beautiful collection - both comic and sorrowful

reminded me of how powerful well-placed humor is in the best writing

and also of the Woody Allen quote - comedy is simply tragedy plus time...

Jul 28, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it
It took me several poems to get my bearings in this one. But I'm a fan, so I continued on...
Sure enough, by about 1/3 of the way in, the guy started blowing my head off with so many individual lines, as well as entire poems. This is the good stuff!
Feb 15, 2008 Rynell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
I love the layering of fresh images and narrative in this book. I have some favorites in this book that I keep coming back to over and over again, even though I've finished reading it. My favorites include "Her my body," "Elsewhere" and "Switching to deer time."
Charlie O'Hay
Sep 17, 2013 Charlie O'Hay rated it really liked it
In my opinion a This Clumsy Living is a vast improvement over Insomnia Diaries. This is Hicok comfortable at the wheel.
Sara Kearns
blistering, tender, "a softness of phantom limbs marching through the forest," a shiver, an assault on silence, a brilliant ballet of words, life on a page.
Oct 01, 2010 Liam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This collection may cross into post-modernism too much for me.
Jun 28, 2010 Jen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Another one of my extensive reviews: this book is amazing. That is all.
Gary McDowell
Jul 08, 2007 Gary McDowell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-ones
Love it!!
Jun 11, 2007 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: readinjapan
i really like the style of this poetry. completely accessible.
May 15, 2009 Sarah added it
This Clumsy Living (Pitt Poetry Series) by Bob Hicok (2007)
Nov 23, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
I’m very glad I read these poems. This collection of poetry takes on hard subjects. The death of a child in the Chicago River. Raunchy e-mails. Relationships. Violence. The author writes vividly and uniquely. Through these poems the author invites us to see the world a bit more clearly in all its absurdity and pain. The grace the author sees is hard won and yet present.
Oct 07, 2016 Dan rated it it was ok
My first encounter with Hicok's work was "Alzheimer's" in Billy Collins' 180 poems. I thought it was a terribly poignant image of a man trying to help his mother as she loses her mind.


Chairs move by themselves, and books.
Grandchildren visit, stand new and nameless,
their faces’ puzzles missing pieces.

She’s like a fish in a deep ocean,
its body made of light.
She floats through rooms,
through my eyes,
an old woman bereft of chronicle,
the parable of her life.

And though she’s almost a child
Melting Uncle
Jun 12, 2015 Melting Uncle rated it liked it
Shelves: finished2015
I read this... Some of the images were really striking. BUT. The overall effect was not really super powerful or potent. I read 5 star reviews and wonder if there's something here I'm not getting? Maybe if I were better at reading poetry this would'be been a five star experience for me? There were parts I really liked but I don't know if I would recommend this to anybody I know...... yet!
Aug 26, 2010 Molly rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
This was more surreal than I expected it to be. It probably deserves more stars, but I wasn't really in the mood for... ambiguity? poetic license? dreams? Postmodernisms? Anyhow, if that's your thing, you'll love these poems.
Mar 01, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I liked most of the poems in this a lot and Hicok's language is unbeatable in every one of them. I do prefer Words for Empty and Words for Full as a whole, but this was still a wonderful collection.
May 05, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Hands down, Hicok has some beautiful lines, but I left each poem empty handed. I feel cheated by one liners and technique. Not as impressed as all the people that recommend him!
Nov 25, 2007 Nyna rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
While some of the poems in this volume can get a little self-indulgent, it also includes one of my favorite poems of all time and several more that I keep coming back to.
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  • Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form
  • Elegy On Toy Piano
  • Smoke
  • Song
  • Praise
  • Some Ether
  • And Her Soul Out Of Nothing
  • Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk: A Poem in Fragments
  • Fragment of the Head of a Queen: Poems
  • Human Dark with Sugar
  • Tea
  • Tell Me
  • What Narcissism Means to Me
  • Atlantis
  • Book of My Nights
  • The Selected Levis
  • Dancing in Odessa
  • The Splinter Factory
Bob Hicok was born in 1960. His most recent collection, This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), was awarded the 2008 Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. His other books are Insomnia Diary (Pitt, 2004), Animal Soul (Invisible Cities Press, 2001),a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Plus Shipping (BOA, 1998), and The Legend of Light (University of Wiscons ...more
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