Josephine Baker Swimming Pool is Tim Suermondt’s best book yet, offering readers respite from the crass, conflicted world in which we live. As he writes in “A Revolution, After All”: “We put the political books back on the shelf / and went to bed and dreamed of tomorrow.” Nothing is avoided or denied, but our poet embraces each blow or kiss or silly detail with love, respect and amazing wit. The resulting collection is joyful. Writing students can study this volume for how to end a poem with discovery and surprise. Like the blues, these poems refresh the spirit.
—Marilyn Kallet, Knoxville Poet Laureate, author of 18 books,
including How Our Bodies Learned (Black Widow Press)
Tim Suermondt’s fifth full-length book of verse, Josephine Baker Swimming Pool, is one you should keep by your bedside to dive into just before turning off your light—for its companionable tone, for its clarity and surprising imagery, for the sweet quietude of these many meditations. Inspired by a trip to Paris, Suermondt takes on the humble persona of a visitor willing to be awed, impressed, delighted. Like the Little Sparrow, he takes note of the grand and the small, open to beauty wherever he finds it, as in his poem “Piaf,” which ends “… a negligee on the floor, / a song on the radio / that could break your heart / if you let it. Let it.” Bob Dylan (the subject of one of Suermondt’s poems) wrote that the best songs have a quality of intimacy and friendship. Tim Suermondt’s poems—here and in his previous work—shine with that quality.
—Nancy Schoenberger, author of Long Like a River (poems),
Dangerous Muse (biography), and co-authored
biography, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters