Welcome back, Jason Tandon!

This month we are celebrating the titles that we’ve acquired in the past six months. These manuscripts came to us through our open reading periods and our 2017 Hudson Prize. Today we bring you Jason Tandon, author of the poetry collection The Actual World, which will be published in the summer of 2019. This will be Jason’s third book with Black Lawrence Press.
Have a manuscript you think we’d like? During our November Open Reading Period we are looking for poetry (chapbooks and full-length collections), short fiction (again, both chapbooks and full-length collections), novels, novellas, nonfiction (CNF, biography, cultural studies) and translations from German. Also, our Big Moose Prize for the novel is currently open to early bird submissions.

Tandon Author Photo - Quality of LifeThe Author

Jason Tandon was born in Hartford, CT in 1975. He is the author of four collections of poetry including The Actual World (Black Lawrence Press, forthcoming 2019), Quality of Life (Black Lawrence Press, 2013), and Give over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt (Black Lawrence Press, 2009), winner of the 2006 St. Lawrence Book Award. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Esquire, Poetry East, and Spoon River Poetry Review, and have been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Middlebury College and an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and he is a Senior Lecturer in  the Arts & Sciences Writing Program at Boston University.


On writing The Actual World

The earliest poems in The Actual World date back to 2012, and I finished a draft of the manuscript during the summer of 2016. In terms of the creative process, I typically don’t write a collection of poetry with an organizing principle or concept in mind. I write until I have a manuscript of fifty to sixty poems, with which I am happy; then, I send the poems out to journals to get a sense of their merit.
Between work and family, I find very little time to write—only in brief snatches first thing in the morning. I tend to compose quiet, imagistic poems, rather than meditative or frenetic ones. Though I don’t attempt Frost’s endings of clarification or wisdom, ironic or otherwise, I continue to be drawn to his description of a poem as a “momentary stay against confusion.” At the same time, I also like the idea of a poem, to paraphrase a line from Robert Lowell’s “For the Union Dead,” as a fishbone that sticks in the reader’s throat.



In the Country
Suspended in this hammock
swaying in a shadow
between two pines,
eyes closed,
head emptying,
could you be content
oarless and adrift
on a vast, pitch-black sea?
Morning Commute (I)
We rise in darkness,
rain falling
like crystal splinters
from a smashed chandelier,
knowing soon
the red shoots of the peonies
will spear through the mulch,
the ants will burrow above the frost line,
the mothers and fathers of those massacred children
will bend to the hyacinth,
a black horse at its trough.
At the Orchard
We sit beneath a giant maple
watching pirouettes of yellow
gust upwards, each leaf
an illumined skin
stretched across a pliable spine.
My son spins an apple between his hands,
bites it like a bucktoothed animal.
Mouth full, cheeks juice-streaked
he laughs at the pig
wallowing in its mud pit.
Distantly I hear the dull crunch
of gravel, and I am a boy again
running down a dark road,
the sky full of stars
as if blown from an open palm.
When my father found me
at the edge of the reservoir
and shook my shoulders, angry and afraid,
I didn’t know where
I was going. I didn’t know why.