DURHAM, NC – Stephen C. Pollock’s debut collection nods to the literary traditions of years past while simultaneously speaking to the present moment. Multilayered and musical, the poems in Pollock’s “Exits” (Windtree Press, June 29, 2023) have drawn comparisons to the work of Eavan Boland and Seamus Heaney. With bold imagery, attention to form, and a consistent throughline rooted in the theme of mortality, his collection responds to contemporary anxieties surrounding death and the universal search for meaning in life’s transience.

From “Steve’s Balloons,” which was awarded the 2nd Place Prize for the 2020 Thomas H. McDill Award:

I saw then that balloons are not at all round

but are shaped like tears,

that a dream is not so much

that scrap of rubber on the ground

as the breath that once filled it.

Every life is finite. Though circumstance and timing may vary, death remains the one inescapable attribute of the human condition. Awareness of this inevitability and recognition of the transient nature of our biological selves profoundly affect each person’s perspective on their life and its meaning.

The poems in this book relate to one or more aspects of mortality  disease and decline, death and remembrance. Many of the images and metaphors are drawn from nature. In addition, each poem is paired with a piece of artwork intended to resonate with the writing and enhance the reader’s experience.

Despite the seemingly sombre theme, all of the poems feature vivid imagery and abundant wordplay. The collection also presents a potpourri of styles, ranging from traditional forms to free verse to hybrid works. Nine of the poems have appeared in literary journals, and six have been recognized in regional or international poetry competitions.

In a world ravaged by contagion, famine and war, Exits dovetails with the prevailing zeitgeist.