Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Hollywood. His work has appeared in numerous journals, most notably Ploughshares, FIELD, Zyzzyva, Ninth Letter, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, ArtLife, PANK, and L.A. Times Best Seller, The Underground Guide to Los Angeles. His first book, Letters To Guns (Red Hen Press 2009), is now required reading in creative writing programs across the nation. His most recent collections are Birthday Girl With Possum (Write Bloody Publishing 2011) and Calamity Joe (Red Hen Press 2012).
Mr. Constantine has had work commissioned by the Getty Museum and he has received grants from the James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. He is currently poet in residence at the Windward School and adjunct professor at Antioch University. In addition, he regularly offers classes in hospitals, prisons, shelters, and with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.
Dementia, My Darling
Publication Date: April 6, 2016
A timely book about forgetting, Dementia, My Darling constructs a thesis on life as we remember it from moment to moment. What is your first memory of love? How soon will you forget answering that question? There is no history but biography, and the heart is a biased historian.
“Brendan Constantine’s Dementia, My Darling is a mediation on memory. Poems address the difficulty of the death of memory and how does a survivor deal with recollections of a father’s lie, a collective lie about snow, school desk carvings, sleep talking, moths, and hospital ceilings. This collection examines consciousness, connotations, and relationships. Constantine is a master poet illuminating the ordinary and extraordinary with his distinct voice holding humor and heart equally.”—Steven Reigns, author of Inheritance
“Dementia, My Darling is a suite of acute, beautiful poems about coming apart, slippage, love, emptying out, transformation, and carrying on. Every absurdly human moment in them is handled with smarts and just the right mix of inventiveness and delicacy. Each poem leaves its mark on the reader. Tender and humane and unsparing, the poems never surrender to despair. They all have a kind of brightness. Constantine renders the creeping surrealism of dementia from many angles, with the awe that is its due. Gaps, anagrams, collage and montage are employed to convey the myriad ways we fragment, multiply, dissolve. A fly is described as ‘an ink blot with wings / a blood spot / that sings a thin hymn.’ (!!) This book is a lyrical wrestling match with mortality.”— Amy Gerstler, author of Dearest Creature
“I love this collection. I’m dazzled by its spectacular acts of imagination, the places it invents, the ways it invents of describing those places. Its most wondrous feat, though, is the heart it allows to beat behinds its intelligence, the person that peers from its intricate, sharp, brilliant latticework: so much structure, so much sharpness, and that softness, too. Bravo.”—Mandy Kahn, author Math, Heaven, Time
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Reality has begun to show its age. Have you noticed? Joe has.
Calamity Joe is the pen name of the mysterious narrator in a new kind of poetry collection. Spending his days in a lab, talking to mice & microbes, he will soon be the last living member of his family. More and more, life seems to hint at its syntax, and Joe feels that he can just make out the page he inhabits. Drastic measures are called for, but for what?
Poet Brendan Constantine hasn’t crafted another “novel in verse,” but a secret life revealed by poetry. Open it anywhere and be rewarded with poems that stand alone; read it from the beginning and discover the deeper context that ties every image together. As with his previous collections, Constantine employs countless approaches to poetry and no single style dominates. Looking through Joe’s eyes, we understand that life has no single story, that love is not a single feeling, and that consciousness may be an act of sheer will.
Letters to Guns
Publication Date: February 15, 2009
Letters To Guns examines the para-physical natures of love and history, at times re-imagining both. As the poems progress, eight letters arrive written by non-human addressees (a nightgown, a grove of trees, a wooden spoon, others) at random points over the last 2,200 years. They are messages from home and pleas for understanding, warnings and promises of change. These in turn ignite other poems and themes which anticipate the next arrival. Taken together, the letters form an armature, a living skeleton fleshed by real and metaphenomenal experience. Throughout, a variety of styles appears and no single approach to poetry pervades. Singly, these poems should challenge and entertain. As a group they must transform and evolve our experience of sitting down with a book of poems.