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Matthew Rohrer

Surrounded by Friends

Surrounded by Friends

By Matthew Rohrer

  • The poems in Surrounded by Friends are generated by, and embrace, friendships with the living, the dead, and the inanimate. Friends, family, and the urban peoplescape are gathered together in these poems, with more and more poetic voices joining in, and ending with poems written "in collaboration" with Issa, Buson, Basho and Hafiz.

  • Both the slight and serious moments Rohrer captures in Surrounded by Friends play out against this backdrop of deeper questioning, which not only unifies a collection that’s extremely varied in its subject matter, but also makes reading and rereading the collection a pleasure.
    Brian McKenna, NewPages

    Urbanized and delicate, contemplative and wry, the poems in this latest collection from Rohrer explore the loneliness that thrives alongside (and in spite of) overpopulated cities, and the friendship and assembly offered by the living and dead...Reading Rohrer’s work, one has the distinct impression that the poems, seemingly so spontaneous, will linger indefinitely with their reader.
    Publishers Weekly

    Written partly in the vein of Hafiz and of haiku poets like Kobayashi Issa and Basho, Surrounded by Friends brims with beautifully brief lines and images that stick in the mind.
    Jarry Lee, BuzzFeed

    ...Rohrer uses the poetics of the mundane, seizing everyday sights, sounds, and experiences to capture fragments of deeper meaning. There are poems that portray park scenes, crazy people on the subway, and ants run amok. But even when a poem ends seemingly unspectacularly, its cumulative effect demands rereading, until a blurry blend of images coalesces into beauty.
    Peter Dabbene, Foreword Reviews

    From finding a child’s lost drawing to contending with a teasing grandfather, these moments are never freighted with outsize emotion (a tack too many poets take) but unfold as lived. Lucid work from a poet heard on NPR.
    Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

    With its poetic landscape so full of everyday magic and wonder, there is a prevalent sense of safety and contentedness, and perhaps a resultant touch of hermeticism, in the collection.
    Brian Laidlaw, Rain Taxi

  • Matthew Rohrer is the author of The Sky Contains the Plans (Wave Books, forthcoming 2020), The Others (Wave Books, 2017), which was the winner of the 2017 Believer Book Award, Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015), Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011), A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007) and A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004), which was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Satellite (Verse Press, 2001), and co-author, with Joshua Beckman, of Nice Hat. Thanks. (Verse Press, 2002), and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Next Big Thing. His first book, A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Oliver in 1994. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at NYU. He can be reached at

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN# 9781940696034 (5x7.75 112pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781940696027 (5x7.75 112pp, limited edition hardcover)

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