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Little Million Doors


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Galleys sent to print magazines in advance of publication, finished book sent to list of reviewers created in collaboration with the author, twitter, instagram, Nightboat blog and catalog, NYC and Bay Area book launches.

About the Author

Chad Sweeney is the author of five previous books of poetry, two books of translation (Farsi and Spanish), and two edited additions. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Volt, New American Writing, and elsewhere. He coordinates the Creative Writing program at California State University San Bernardino where he edits Ghost Town Literary Journal. He lives in Southern California with his partner, poet Jennifer K. Sweeney and their two little boys.


"Still and spare, Little Million Doors is a book-length series of lyrics that mourns a lost father. These half-uttered poems prove the “possibility” of poetry to provide avenues to understanding, even amid grief, by constructing themselves loosely enough to allow both time and space to quiver within. This level of quantum energy may feel nearly ungovernable but Chad Sweeney makes it work through internal music, the most specific of images and events, and a fine-tuned and innovative grammar that loops and fractures and overlaps and reforms. Perhaps ghostly but never disembodied, these lyrics feel immediate, necessary and absolutely brand new. Though elegiac they are ever hopeful and affirming and alive."—Kazim Ali, Judge’s Citation

"Chad Sweeney’s book Little Million Doors enacts the starkness of Barthes’ Mourning Diary but with the potency of the long poem, a meditation on the 'living shadow on the wall.' This moving work considers how the body finds solace in the world-building of elegy. This book is also an extended meditation on elegy as subjectivity. Little Million Doors is an original."—Carmen Gimenez Smith

"How long do we walk between our deaths and that next plane? In Little Million Doors time settles around the dead as though snow in a meadow. As though the meadow itself falling as one long day assembles with the dead at its center no matter the direction they walk. In Sweeney’s book-length elegy, both ephemeral and on-the-tongue, populous and lonely, the road was all / Of bones // And all and only I / Was on it. Speaker becomes ghost and readers trace a dead man’s steps, taking leave of the cities and low heavens, each other as children, the surface of it all, its depths, and the flickering leaves, too. How many doors are there through which we can walk out of this world? A million little ones, according to Chad Sweeney."—Danielle Pafunda

"The poetry of Chad Sweeney is exuberant, imagistic, and prophetic. It locates a “critical moment” of the ineffable that would be inexpressible, had it not been so beautifully expressed: “the last hawk in the net of his eye.” Prophetic means of the world--'“the median burns with oleander from Miami to LA” and “the beer tastes of uranium”--but also touched by the marvelous (“the fire is folded inside its wood”). This is a poetry of awakening, of coming into knowledge. We are near the beginning and the end, but in a curiously real place where you can hear the white teeth of a bull pull at the grass."—Paul Hoover.

In Parable of Hide and Seek, Chad Sweeney offers highly allusive and sonically textured lyrics that bring the reader to the edge of darkness, but always with a wink, the sense of menace tempered by the taut music of the pun. —Jacket2

Like a hurricane of images, or a tsunami of grief, Sweeney’s lines strain against a background of stability and coherence that barely holds together. The book is an elegy not only because the title tells us so, but because it performs its elegiac ritual without the filter of conventional form or syntactical coherence. If grief is inchoate, the poet asks, what language is sufficient to the duty it is called upon to perform? The answer is a language suddenly released from its duties to inform or to persuade—functions of containment, framing, and interpretation—a non-syntax left to its singular capacity to conjure the ineffable, to bring it into being.—James Benton, LA Review

In an Internet-based world, thankfully, there is still poet-to-poet news. We read a book so good we have to tell somebody. We phone another poet and read poems aloud until both of us are moved to silence. Then the work begins to spread in the old way, an excitement, a brush fire. This is what I hope will happen to Chad Sweeney’s Little Million Doors: An Elegy.—Mary Ann McFadden, The Aldroit Journal

Lines composed by a disjoint of conscious memory, shards of grief felt in the liminal spaces of shock and disorientation. Stark and spare lines fuse, then undo themselves by reversal. The poem emerges, the stance of stanzas comes with no duality by form or content.—Matt Hill, Empty Mirror

Written after the death of the poet’s father and during an autistic episode, poet and translator Sweeney masters the art of understatement in this book of forthright and delicate poems.—Publishers Weekly

The effect of Sweeney’s lines are striking, composing phrases that end before they finish, accumulating as a kind of staccato or lyric pointillism, one made out of moments to cohere into something larger, but only once enough of the poem has presented itself.—rob mclennan, rob mclennan's blog

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