(fleeting)


Books

Vessels, my first book of poetry, will be published on 17 December, 2024, by Unsolicited Press.

It is available for preorder now: from my publisher, Bookshop.org, Subtext Books, Next Chapter (where, delightfully, they all misspell my name with a capital “van”).

(It’s also listed at that dystopian online retailer named after a very big river, but please don’t order from there if you can help it.)

the detail of a leaf, mostly pale green with darker green veins, fading to deep red at its spine, and the text 'VESSELS Robert van Vliet' printed vertically on one side

A late addition to the great tradition of wisdom texts, Robert van Vliet’s Vessels attends to what it means to be alive in the Anthropocene, an era of climate destruction and dislocation from the natural world. “That is / the puzzle for / every generation,” he poses, “to / fix what has / been fixed.” The poet’s gentle, prophetic voice ekes out an intrepid authority, half-whispered into the ear as “water whispers to / the seed as it lies / on its belly,” and the poems function as both meditations and instructions for use. “Speak / carefully,” he instructs in one of the book’s many near-adages, “or the / listening fish will mistake / your confusion for their order.” Guided by gnostic and transcendentalist thought and built on found materials and chance operations, these poems walk a wooded path, where there is refuge, dissonance, ash, strange magic, and where below the observable world is the “unforeseen” territory of the spirit.

Jane Huffman, author of Public Abstract

In the author’s note at the end of Vessels, we are given the kindling for the conception of the book. A methodology of pre-fixed words, of random lines sourced from a small number of books, of boundaries, of casts of the dice. From those are skillfully & deliberately shaped the shortish poems found in each of the three separate parts of the book. But weaving their way through the book, across all the parts, are a series of longer poems, sermons almost, deeper, more impersonal than the shorter poems in the book. Yet those shorter poems are the feedstock from which the longer ones are recreated; & the longer poems are the stakes that the shorter poems grow stronger on. Vessels is a spiritual text, a canticle, but not necessarily a denominational one. A catechism in the sense it is an exposition of belief, where the mysteries of nature & relationships are the divinities. It is a communion with oneself, with others, with the great beyond. It is a thoughtful & thought-provoking compendium of answers to those questions we needed someone more astute than ourselves to ask.

Mark Young


This Folded Path, my debut chapbook, is out now from above/ground press.

a black and white photo of a fallen log, showing its rings; with my name above the image and the title below