In stock (can be backordered)

ISBN: 978-0-9994471-1-6
Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

So Far Afield

Publication Date: September 2017


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. So Far Afield was originally published by Nomadic.

So Far Afield is a poetic study into the queer nature of love among men—a gay love that’s been called contra naturam—tracing their wild desires, spiritual connections, and unspoken encounters, from seaside to cemetery. With a voice both musical and broken, Speers’ debut collection incorporates classical lyric forms with a contemporary elliptical style to create new narratives about our old world—a world that keeps on falling in love, even as it’s falling apart.


So Far Afield is a rarity: a new work of art that is truly, ardently, memorably, about love. Frederick Speers’ well-told narratives of a gay man in this time and this place rotate like planets around that central, generative reality, love itself. This serious, lyrical, splendidly imagined book is entirely contemporary and at the same time a descendant (and in one poem, an inspired translator) of Catullus.
—Robert Pinsky

So Far Afield is a love song to queer love, to love itself, to loss, to language in its swishing of senses: ‘…yet so positive / (Who doesn’t love a lost cause?)’ His intricate self-interrupting syntax twines aubade to elegy, wit to lushness. His rotting lemons stand for all ‘lovely being, being undone.’ Within the gorgeous wordplay there’s a stark determination ‘to make things clear, starting with ourselves.’ His book is a gift of hard-won knowledge. A ravishing debut.
—Rosanna Warren

The capacity of men to love—and to love each other—intimately, with tender affection and abandon, is a constant theme in the poems of Frederick Speers’ gregariously fragile and yawp-ish first collection, So Far Afield . As such, Walt Whitman is a presiding spirit / companion, but so, too, is James Schuyler in the poems’ keenly observant, descriptive spokenness; so, too, is Gerard Manley Hopkins in the deliberate muscularity of their rhythms. These are poems meant to be read slowly aloud, every syllable savored—dancing, talking, whispering, fighting. ‘May the death that lives within you die,’ one notes. Palpably unguarded, old in the soul, and almost maniacally sublime, this is a book of radical open-heartedness. I love these poems for their artfulness, but also for how alive the life in them is. This isn’t just a dynamite first book, it’s a book of dynamite, one to return to.
—Matt Hart

What a joy to read a debut volume that is both brimming with the vigor of life and able to make a space for us to see—and mourn—the loss of it. From ‘each finger curl of fruit’ to the place where ‘forever ends in a pair of arms,’ Speers’ poems are a beautiful exploration of how we lose and find ourselves in the movements of the mind, the creation of the self and the experiences of countless varieties of love. In language at once intimate and abstract, revelatory and raunchy, these poems suggest sinews and syntax of the human heart.
—Kirun Kapur

In Frederick Speers’ So Far Afield , men drink their own hearts, fold the corners of evenings, and find themselves and each other, cleaved together and apart. An anthem to love, to the rushing feeling of being alive, and to geography both real and imagined, this collection is a record of Speers’ inimitable vision of the world. From the crooked closeness of smiles about to give out, to a lonely ghost dressed in rags of hope, Speers examines a wild range of human strengths and frailties. He also creates his own language; its interruptions, contradictions and refrains mimic the meter of actual conversation and life, giving even greater depth to his lyricism. In observations at once utterly original and so true they feel familiar, Speers demonstrates the wisdom of his own line: ‘again and again, we can be found.’ A haunting and beautiful book.
—Rachel DeWoskin

About the Author

Frederick Speers

Frederick Speers (he/him) is the author of So Far Afield, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His chapbook, In the Year of Our Making and Unmaking was selected by Carl Phillips for the Frontier Poetry chapbook award in 2020. Fred’s poems have appeared in AGNI (Online); Crab Creek Review, winner of the 2020 poetry contest, selected by Keetje Kuiper; Diode Poetry Journal; Forklift, Ohio; Impossible Archetype; Iron Horse Literary Review; The Ofi Press Magazine; Tahoma Literary Review; Portland Review; The Rumpus; Salamander Magazine; The Straddler; Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly; and Visible Binary. A full-time senior manager for a high tech company, Fred is also a reader for the Beloit Poetry Journal. He lives in Colorado with his husband and their three dogs.

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