The poems in Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy that is greater than either fact or imagination. It is this sense of intimacy that brings the poems to life. We encounter real places sometimes—places we see on maps and highway signs—but also places that exist only in the imagination. We encounter names that are both recognizable and almost—or barely—remembered at all: Robert E. Lee next to one of a thousand men named Jackson who went to fight in Vietnam; Jorge Luis Borges next to an unknown boy from Clarita, Oklahoma, who himself would become a poet someday; a man who wishes he were Rocky Marciano hammering the heavy bag in Northeast Ohio, hungry for more than beans or soup. And suddenly it becomes clear how intimately connected in this collection these places and names are as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh; and a strange, sleepy place called Pomegranate Town where someone’s infant dozes in the back of a car on a seaside highway. The people who inhabit these places seem, in a sense, to become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition.
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“Carl Boon’s vivid and timely poetry is tuned to a rare frequency—one not often seen in American poetry—and plays nuanced, insightful and generous songs. In its engagements, its capacity to capture fleeting landscapes and moments, this collection sneaks up on you and disturbs your equilibrium in the best possible way.”
—ANN TOWNSEND, author of The Coronary Garden
“As the title suggests, PLACES & NAMES aspires to a panoramic authority whereby Carl Boon can visit any life anywhere (especially Southeast Asia, Turkey, and the USA) since the Sixties and find a twist of pathos there. Such ambition, with such insistence on the local and visible (“the boy // on his unruly skateboard, / the wasp in the fig tree”), calls to mind Robert Lowell’s History, or the more recent work of such poets as David Wojahn, Campbell McGrath, and Angela Sorby. The ironic effect of such eclectic specificities is a pervasive rueful sense that human longing and loneliness remain the same everywhere.”
—MARK HALLIDAY, author of Thresherphobe
About the Author
Ohio native Carl Boon earned his doctorate in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007. His dissertation examined Ron Silliman’s practice of parataxis as a democratizing feature in The Alphabet. Prior to his doctoral studies, Boon earned his B.A. from Denison University in 1996 and his M.A. from Ohio University in 1999, both in English with emphases on creative writing.
Boon moved to Istanbul, Turkey, in 2008. Since then, he has taught courses in American culture and literature at several Turkish universities, and directed the English prep program at Istanbul Yeni Yüzyıl University in 2014 and 2015. He currently lives in Izmir with his wife Ebru Tuncer Boon, an associate professor of music education, and daughter Clara, and teaches courses in the Department of American Culture and Literature at Dokuz Eylül University. In 2018, he edited Perspectives on the Sublime in American Cultural Studies (Dokuz Eylül University Press) and is presently at work editing a volume titled Places at the Table: Food in American Culture and Literature.
Boon’s poems have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines, and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad, earning him nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Award. He is currently preparing his second collection of poems, tentatively titled Ahmet Yılmaz Lives—a book that will reflect his interest in imaginative biography more fully.