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13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins

13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins

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Poetry

O, The Oprah Magazine, "42 Best LGBTQ Books of 2020"
NPR's "Favorite Books of 2020"

In his fourth collection, 13th Balloon, Mark Bibbins turns his candid eye to the American AIDS crisis. With quiet consideration and dark wit, Bibbins addresses the majority of his poems to Mark Crast, his friend and lover who died from AIDS at the early age of 25. Every broken line and startling linguistic turn grapples with the genre of elegy: what does it mean to experience personal loss, Bibbins seems to ask, amidst a greater societal tragedy? The answer is blurred - amongst unforeseen disease, intolerance, and the intimateconsequences of mismanaged power. Perhaps the most unanswerable question arrives when Bibbins writes, "For me elegy/ is like a Ouija planchette/ something I can barely touch/ as I try to make it/ say what I want it to say." And while we are still searching for the words that might begin an answer, Bibbins helps us understand that there is endless value in continuing - through both joy and grief - to wonder.

Mark Bibbins was born in 1968 in Albany, New York. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School, and is the author of four books of poems, including They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry, They Kill You Because They're Full, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, and Sky Lounge, which received a Lambda Literary Award. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT magazine. In addition to teaching, Bibbins is the editor of the poetry section of The Awl, a web magazine. He lives in New York City.