Askew by Robert Vaughan
Robert Vaughan’s ASKEW works by association—one thought, one image, one moment tumbling into the next—yet the effect on the reader is a self emerging from the fragments, a self trying to make sense of the world as it skitters away, just out of reach. The effect is to bring us closer to what it feels like to be alive.
-Nick Flynn, author This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
Reading Robert Vaughan’s ASKEW is like stepping into the very layers of his own skin. The movements from phrase to phrase become your self-same secret knowledge. Some writers offer windows into their heart; Robert Vaughan gives you his outright, gifting it one beat at a time and with complete commitment.
– Sheldon Lee Compton, author of The Collected Stories: Sheldon Lee Compton and The Orchard is Full of Sound
If everything has a label, Robert Vaughan is here to peel back the sticker and run his mouth across the residual chemical traces. ASKEW speaks for the askance, the sidereal, the sidelong glance when leaving a bus in a town filled with strangers, while asking more difficult questions about the stability of identity and selfhood in a shifting world. To decay and reconvene in the ruins, to meet the speaker among the crumbling rocks, to find words for the shapes of our absence–to be alive in the ravish of that.
-Alina Stefanescu, author of Dor and Ribald
I always turn to Robert Vaughan whenever I need a good kick in the language pants, a waft of “salacious breeze” cut with “a swallow’s shriek.” In his latest collection, ASKEW, Vaughan continues to honor the “small madness where senses reel behind the eyes.” Ache runs rampant, fractured by longing: for places and people, arrested moments, former selves, fleeting lovers. These may be compact poems and microfictions, but don’t underestimate their size: Vaughan approaches the page with an honest, elastic and heartfelt expansiveness that holds space for us all.
-Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace: Stories
In Robert Vaughan’s newest collection, ASKEW, we see how things fall apart, from the temporariness of our relationships to our humanmade world filled with ex-lovers and the ex-living, and many times with a questioning: what is there to lose? Vaughan is a master of story and each poem creates a scene where we carve out a life / among automatic updates / daylight savings or / bonuses on Wall Street. Fearless, engaging, eclectic, and open, Vaughan’s poems are unafraid to move from image to image and throughout the world—from the speaker getting news his mother died while in a SoHo Starbucks to I’d once loved an / ornithologist who studied parrots / in the Australian outback. These are gifts of Vaughan’s poems; they take us with them while bringing harps and hunger and moonlight to share the intimacies of life—yes, fragments surround us, yes, this shattered road, but these poems come together to connect and give voice and reminding us–Look how I touch the world, not as myself, but as an echo of who I was.
-Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides