The Room Where I Was Born

(University of Wisconsin, 2003)


Winner of the 2003 Brittingham Prize and the 2004 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry

“Teare’s poetry at its core is interested in highlighting the strangeness of language. Readers will see this from the very first page in an untitled poem that begins, ‘Say it was father bought the word and made it his with a picture.’ The poem also introduces readers to Teare’s interest in the subjectivity of the I and the relativity of language. In the grammar of his poetry, the I is ‘outside the poem,’ sitting on a porch, dragging on a cigarette, pondering ‘how a narrative’s ending denotes another beginning,’ as he puts it in one poem. ‘When I say “I” I mean eye, sum of my watching,’ he writes in ‘First person plural is a house.’ With his devious plays on grammar, his talent for finding the strange incantatory spell in language, and his ability to create new myths, Teare might prove to be one of the stand-out younger poets writing today.” – Christopher Hennessy

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“Teare risks a lot with his dark and steamy narratives. They locate themselves on the borders of melodrama and nightmare and could easily slide over or fall into parody. But they maintain their dangerous balance, in part because of language that offsets lushness with bald fact (‘beauty . . . in the tinny chuckle of his belt unbuckling, // . . . in the tick of bills he counts out after’), in part because of the distancing and sometimes weirdly distorting effect of those literary formulae. The Room Where I Was Born casts a powerful spell, and it has to: ‘When the book and voice and light give up and go / to bed under another name,’ all hell breaks loose. ‘This is knowledge: the child awake as the light goes out.'” – Susan Settlemyre Williams, Blackbird