paper • 108 pages • 15.95
ISBN: 978-1-945588-29-7

rivers of the driftless region

Mark Conway

Conway’s spare, imagistic poems concern the implications of eternity: which offers no past or future but rather an ever-present now.

“in the blizzard” from rivers of the driftless region

the horses are filthy in their winter coats
grubby and matted
manes mended with hay ::
they shuffle /
heads down—flickering
homeward between
snows like medieval pilgrims: seen
and invisible /
unseen and real . . .
the blizzard continues and the world is the wind
our eyes close to slits
inside the drift and the howl
the horses aren’t ours / not even broken to ride
still they help us get home
as we look into the wind
seeing nothing but whiteness ahead
with them dark inside

Praise by D. Nurkse
Praise by Mary Szybist
Past Praise by Tracy K. Smith

“Mark Conway’s poems shine in the mind like the volatile core of a dream before you squeeze it into chronology. They can illuminate the perpetual present of childhood, the savage present of our long crisis, geological time, and what lies beyond time. The work burns with spiritual urgency—’to see as if the light/ went right through you.’ Visions are hard-won, the voice is intimate, and there’s no hierarchy between the funky and the numinous. Lines like flames evoke the nakedness of the self in a world where love is real and hard. There’s true wildness and fierce originality in rivers of the driftless region.”



“Intensely aware of the ways that violence and humiliation conspire not just to silence voices but also the capacity to think, Mark Conway has written a dazzling quest-rodeo of the inner life. rivers of the driftless region takes us inside the lush, divided terrain of the mind exploring how thoughts take up space inside of us—and how we attempt to move through and beyond them. Apertures shatter, vistas open. If these are songs of unenlightenment, they are also lit with a grace that may be as close as we get, with their enthralling mind-singing ‘ring[ing]/ ecstatically off-/ key.'”

“Reading these poems, I hear the clatter of my own footsteps through cities of hieroglyphs and pinball machines—a paradise run-through with ghosts, whom Conway conjures with grit and grace. Dreaming Man, Face Down hits me in the head and heart with image after stunning image, and the hard true language of love and regret.”