Tidal front cover

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

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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.


  • "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