paper • 88 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-53-6

Watch the Book Trailer


Josh Kalscheur

Winner of the Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry


Tidal focuses on Chuuk State, a group of islands that are a part of the Federated States of Micronesia. This focus encompasses Micronesia’s morality, its taboos and myths, and how information and stories disseminate between villages, social groups, ethnicities, classes, and genders. Using persona, these poems explore and challenge the idea of witness.

“Voyeurs,” from Tidal:

In the heated banter near Sapuk School

my brothers huddled


in half-moons around it

watching the flat section of the road


the flex of hip thrusted

the mocked act


crowded mutt males working inverses

in the body’s softest underskin


a rattle echoing the wire-grate window

the jolt of knee-bends rubbing a burn running


through thigh sinew

dogs marking a beat down


ten-litter teats dragging a fog-dust

a rooted chorus


a quarter-terrier’s thudded weight

the speckle-gray half-hound


moping the foreground

the weaker breeds bleeding from the ears


submissive in the dense heat

the dogs going for it


under the mango tree

the thought my brothers must drum


in the sporadic head-turns

the tightening calves


how pain must enter somewhere

shift indifferently


even the flies flocking to the bloodspot

the blurred swarm settling.

Praise by James Longenbach, judge

“Some great books of poems feel driven by the play of language, endlessly inventive syntax propelling us headlong down the page. Other great books feel driven by conviction, the poet enraptured by a world that feels bigger, messier than the language at hand. Josh Kalscheur’s Tidal is both these books at once. Set from start to finish in the seductively claustrophobic culture of Micronesia, the poems make the act of recording the world seem indistinguishable from an act of the highest imagination. Every perspective (male, female, old, young, outsider, insider) is rendered here in a language whose inventiveness feels inexhaustible—syntax, line, and diction colluding to build poems that are themselves the world in which the poet walks. This world, the world of human suffering, human folly, belongs to all of us, but the language—pulsing, tender, giddy, suave—is Josh Kalscheur’s alone.” – James Longenbach, judge

1 Response