How to Dance as the Roof Caves In

How to Dance as the Roof Caves In
Nick Lantz
"[A] biting but tender book. . . . Lantz shows us moving through a world that spins out of our control. But amid the remnants these poems are testaments to what remains of our hope."—NPR, All Things Considered
“Extremely accessible, written in ceaselessly entertaining, almost prose-like lines, and full of wisdom—though, unfortunately, not of the uplifting kind. It's 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.”—Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR

About the Book

“Nick Lantz writes with elegant simplicity. Most poets take a lifetime to learn as much.”—Linda Gregerson
It's fast and cool as running water, the way we forget

the names of friends with whom we talked and talked

the long drives up and down the coast.

I say I love and I love and I love. However, the window

will not close. However, the hawk searches

for its nest after a storm. However, the discarded

nail longs to hide its nakedness inside the tire.

—from “Fork with Two Tines Pushed Together”
How to Dance as the Roof Caves In 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 perspective investors. In these marvelous poems, Nick Lantz describes the changing American landscape with great imagination and sharp wit.

“An unsettling Jeremiad leveled at today’s America. . . . Nick Lantz has taken his place among the central poets of his generation.”—David Wojahn
“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. At the same time, he is a heartbreaker, a poet who'd risk it all for love.”—D. A. Powell

Additional Reviews

"Lantz's lyrics are by turns blunt and delicate, confrontational and full of lamentation."Booklist
"Satirical and darkly comic. . . . Lantz doesn't obfuscate; urgently employing direct expression, his poems 'let the path of a bird circling / a field describe the dome.'"Publishers Weekly
"Lantz's tactic is to show us the ludicrous in our daily life machines. His brain is a great piece of software and the data base is satire. This is theater of the absurd—bold, individual, ambitious, nimble, slightly cynical—a solid identity, sustained page after page. For consumers of poetry, you can't find a better buy."Washington Independent Review of Books
“Extraordinary. . . . Understated, concise and jaw-droppingly beautiful.”—Hazel & Wren
"[Lantz] paints modern America with wit, wisdom, and satire."Largehearted Boy
“Endlessly bizarre and poignant.”Ostrich Review
"In his first two collections, Nick Lantz proved himself to be a poet of significant promise—and a unique sensibility that combined wit with political outrage. His exploration of the slippery line between fact and invention, between the little lies we tell ourselves and the Big Lies which are foisted upon us by history made for an almost Borgesian sensibility. In his third collection, he retains his signature inventiveness, but the stakes are immensely higher, for this book is an unsettling Jeremiad leveled at today’s America, and it recalls the best work of the late Louis Simpson. He confronts our consumerism and spiritual desolation without glibness, without reducing them to easy targets—and with a deeply melancholic sense of his own complicity within these systems. Nick Lantz has taken his place among the central poets of his generation."—David Wojahn
"Nick Lantz is a dark satirist, a subversive eye trained on the wasted lawns of suburbia and a cunning ear attuned to the frighteningly funny bits of language that assail us in mass media. At the same time, he is a heart-breaker, a poet who'd risk it all for love. As my aunt used to say at suppertime, get in here and get yourself some of this."—D. A. Powell

"When the power players of deception and economic manipulation jack us around in a housing bubble, and we require someone to out those sonsabitches, and wax acerbic toward the hustlers, and wax empathetic toward the victimized and the confused...who ya gonna call? Who ya gonna hire to illuminate our absurdity with a blaze of the absurdist? Nick Lantz, I hope, whose long sequence 'How to Stage a Community' dissects our culture's fakeitude and on-the-makeitude with a wicked stropped-keen blade and an unsettlingly complex vision. But I don't mean that this is a book of nothing but public concerns. Everywhere, an inventively lyric, inward imagination is at work: 'The rain believes / the earth exists // just to give it something / to fall against.' Given verbal finesse like that, put to the use of political aptitude, we'd all be better off if the news on our TV screens and our backlit blogs were stewarded by Nick Lantz. Or as we blurbers say: If Rilke and The Daily Show had a love child...."—Albert Goldbarth