Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

978-1-57441-787-6 Paperback
6 x 9. 112 pp.
Pub Date: 04/15/2020
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This poetry collection is the record of an American’s return home after a decade abroad, an exile imposed solely because he loved another man. In a virtuoso display of lyric and formal inventiveness, Bellin-Oka’s poems meditate on the myriad losses engendered by diaspora: of home, family and sexual identity, and spiritual certainty.

“Steve Bellin-Oka’s poems hold in balance an intensified language and a passionate voice that bring together the struggles of the inner life with stark realities. This is a book of arresting authenticity.”—Peter Balakian, Pulitzer-Prize winner and judge


From “Self-Portrait as the Chosen One”

Long before I was what I am now, short

of breath, bald, just returned with arthritic knees

from exile in another country’s muck and red

volcanic soil, too near-sighted to discern

the High Plains tumbleweed from the burning

bush of myth, scorched now and silent,

long before this, I was the first son my mother bore

that lived.

Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Published by University of North Texas Press