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SHSU Poet To Read From Much-Lauded New Book

April 17, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Scott Kaukonen

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The latest book by poet Nick Lantz, “How to Dance as the Roof Caves In,” is full of instruction: how to dance when you do not know how to dance; how to help a ghost; how to travel; how to stage a community.

Nick Lantz standing in front of a sign that says store closing everything must be sold
Nick Lantz

But it isn’t the kind of self-help book that will land him a guest slot on “Dr. Phil.” In fact, it’s not a self-help book at all, but rather a collection of poems that casts a sharp, satirical—and heartbreaking—eye at America early in the 21st Century.

“The ‘how-to’ model is about the belief that, given the right steps, you can exert some kind of control on your life,” Lantz told “The Rumpus Late Night Poetry Show.” “That idea strikes me as noble or foolish, depending on how my day is going. I’m drawn to that ambivalence.”

Lantz, an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Sam Houston State University, will read from the book on Wednesday (April 23), beginning at 6 p.m. in Austin Hall.

The event is the latest installment in the reading series sponsored by the SHSU Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, editing and publishing. The event is free and open to the public.

“How to Dance as the Roof Caves In,” published by Graywolf Press and recently featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” examines America facing a recession of collective mood and collective wealth.

In a central sequence, the “housing bubble” reaches its bursting point when, with hilarious and biting outcomes, real estate developers hire a married couple and other down-and-out “extras” to stage a fake community to lure prospective investors.

“Nick Lantz is a dark satirist, a subversive eye trained on the waste lawns of suburbia and a cunning ear attuned to the frighteningly funny bits of language that assail us in mass media,” poet D. A. Powell wrote. “At the same time, he is a heartbreaker, a poet who'd risk it all for love.”

“How to Dance as the Roof Caves In” is Lantz’s third book-length collection of poetry, and his first since arriving at SHSU in the fall of 2012. His first two books were both released in 2010: “The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House,” published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and “We Don’t Know We Don’t Know,” published by Graywolf.

Craig Morgan Teicher, writing for NPR, described Lantz’s poetry as “a bit like what you'd get if Billy Collins took his job as a poet more seriously: light-hearted darkness, one of the true ways contemporary America sees itself.”

Lantz is a recipient of fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and Brad Loaf Writers’ Conference.

His work has appeared in journals such as Mid-American Review, Southern Review, Gulf Coast, FIELD, Indiana Review, and Prairie Schooner.

He was the 2010-11 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.

He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin, Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop, Queens University’s Low-Residency MFA, and Franklin & Marshall College. He currently serves as poetry editor of the Texas Review.

For more information, contact MFA program director Scott Kaukonen at 936.294.1407.




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