Winner of the 2012 Colorado Prize for Poetry, selected by Elizabeth Willis

“Jack Christian’s marvelous first collection is as smart and filled with raw wonder as if it were capturing our genetic text from outer space and revealing that what it really looks like is your hand, up close. Family is deep structure and invention—it is its own school of painting—and Christian is the ace reporter of its rituals and paradoxes. You dissolve into the world of relation as it dissolves in you like a powder. These poems read like the solution to a problem so old it could only be written in the future, which is now. ”
—ELIZABETH WILLIS, final judge

“Family System is one of the most specific and clarifying books of poetry I’ve ever read. It is filled with choices—made, to be made, not made—handled with a poetic understanding that what seems arbitrary will be inevitable when said with the right words while singing the right songs. This is a stand-out first book, introducing a first-rate original talent, doing powerful work, making quintessentially lyrical choices. Don’t miss this book.”

“It seems that Jack Christian’s brain is able to produce tiny lucid creatures, have them run and sprinkle over a map of an unknown world with joy, speed, and delight. Even stranger, he’s somehow the spiritual offspring of very different ancestors: Pascal’s Esprit géométrique and Scandinavian mythology. ‘I was eulogizing a squirrel in a shoebox.’ Brilliant.”

Jack Christian was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1978. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and teaches writing at Westfield State University. This is his first book.

Read an excerpt from Family System.