13th Balloon

Mark Bibbins (Author)


In his fourth collection, 13th Balloon, Mark Bibbins turns his candid eye to the American AIDS crisis. With quiet consideration and dark wit, Bibbins addresses the majority of his poems to Mark Crast, his friend and lover who died from AIDS at the early age of 25. Every broken line and startling linguistic turn grapples with the genre of elegy: what does it mean to experience personal loss, Bibbins seems to ask, amidst a greater societal tragedy? The answer is blurred-- amongst unforeseen disease, intolerance, and the intimate consequences of mismanaged power. Perhaps the most unanswerable question arrives when Bibbins writes, "For me elegy/ is like a Ouija planchette/ something I can barely touch/ as I try to make it/ say what I want it to say." And while we are still searching for the words that might begin an answer, Bibbins helps us understand that there is endless value in continuing--through both joy and grief--to wonder.

Product Details

$17.00  $15.64
Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date
February 11, 2020
5.8 X 0.5 X 8.9 inches | 0.4 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Mark Bibbins was born in 1968 in Albany, New York. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School, and is the author of four books of poems, including They Don't Kill You Because They're Hungry, They Kill You Because They're Full, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, and Sky Lounge, which received a Lambda Literary Award. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT magazine. In addition to teaching, Bibbins is the editor of the poetry section of The Awl, a web magazine. He lives in New York City.


"These poems are made powerful by the bitter energy of a voice not silenced but made to sound ridiculous in a political culture in which disagreement with the government is unpatriotic."--Publishers Weekly

"[Bibbins's] Ginsu wit and knack for outing the demons under our skin argue for cynicism as a form of enlightenment, as saving grace, or at least as the last weapon in the depleted arsenal of sanity. Implying that the consequence of acquiescence is the privatizing of public response, his associative, oblique technique becomes the perfect tableturning weapon against the culture of mass distraction."--Boston Review

"The book's a little crazy, packed with air quotes and brackets, jokes and condemnations, forms that explode across the page. Crazily enough, it's also packed with truth." --NPR

"These associative poems have a frenetic energy and wide range--both in form and subject, dexterously combining the levity of pop culture with deadly serious political commentary about the War on Terror, rape culture, and capitalism." --American Poets