Holding a Séance by Myself
Thomas Townsley still has a restless imagination. . . . What surprises me is how, in a work that Invokes ghosts from the past, in a mode of retrospection, he can’t stop inventing. Out of the fragments he melds animal fables, parables, liturgies, ghost stories, dream visions, political debates, a séance or two, or that ancient reminiscence called ubi sunt, Latin for “Where are they now?”
– Ron Block, author of Dismal River and Dirty Shame Motel (Big River Press)
Alert, skeptical, weary, fascinated with strangeness, Townsley writes like Groucho under the influence of Apollinaire. Reading him is a dark pleasure.
– Brooks Haxton, author of Fading Hearts on the River, the true story of his son’s career in high stakes poker, and Mister Toebones, a collection of poems forthcoming in February 2021.
“I push words in wheelbarrows no one depends on,” quips the narrator of one of the poems in Thomas Townsley’s Holding a Séance by Myself. But I beg to differ. This collection is a darkly humorous delight—a place where your cocktail will take a week to mix, where a medieval theologian narrates your naughty dreams, and where the safe word is—literally—“literally.” Like the best absurdism, though, there’s a swift undercurrent of seriousness in his play. “How many ways exist to gild the darkness?” asks one poem, whose narrator claims to know of seven. Townsley clearly knows hundreds upon hundreds, each one more dazzling than the last.
– Philip Memmer, author of Pantheon