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  • Writer's picturejon2920


Updated: Jul 9, 2021

My latest collection has just been published by Marsh Hawk Press under the editorial oversight and all-around excellence of Sandy McIntosh. Poets Elena Alexander and Dan Morris were instrumental in getting this long poem into its necessary finalized structure and vision. It is a rumination about personal and imaginative ruination and stop-start navigation through the pandemic world...we are all still moving through that world, some of us less steady than others. I am still unsteady at any speed or sense or time or poem and wish you the resolve I am still imagining...

Remnant Halo is available via Small Press Distribution. You can go to the Marsh Hawk Press website (, click on the cover image, and you will be directed to the SPD website and can purchase it there.

Alternatively, you can write to me at and order an inscribed copy.

I shall give you the details of how we can arrange the exchange!

Thank you for your support!

Dan Morris wrote a really generous blurb and I am so grateful for it. Thank you again, Dan! Poet Burt Kimmelman's remarkable Introduction from the May 28th Book Launch really gets the gist and soul and charts the charts. Off the charts, Burt, really! Thank you!

Operating phrase: 'Thank you'...

Thank you again and again, Dan and Burt, for your friendship, deep engagement, and spirited readings of this work: you help me better understand every word and line.


Recalling “Lycidas,” in which young Milton overcomes doubts about his poetic commission to mourn the loss of Edward King, his drowned Cambridge companion, Jon Curley successfully navigates his “own twin sense of faith and doubt” to embrace a broken world while acknowledging the Yeatsian desire for transcendence. Making his “way by way of byways laid by better souls and coordinate congregants around me,” Remnant Halo is part prayer for “mass metanoia” (or collective change of heart), part improvised “mad madrigal,” and part muse-ical summoning of influential voices ranging from Niedecker to Heaney to Menashe to Celan to Simone Weil to Dante to Swift to Fanny Howe to Whitman. Remnant Halo may well be the most illuminating threnody for our annus horribilis.



Remnant Halo: A Map n’ Dice Chronicle

Jon Curley’s ambition never lets up, as is quite on display in Remnant Halo: A Map n’ Dice Chronicle. This book-length poem’s accretion of concerns creates a sum greater than the parts. “As the given groaned under the least contempt,” it begins, “I faced again the lesion of the lesson / and so / contained condemnation in the span of a mouth’s / curse.”

Curley’s muscular, unrelenting verse takes no prisoners. His sometimes fearful delvings chronicle our year-plus of plagues. Not long ago, who might believe we’d emerge from our nightmare?

This is not the first book he’s written and published in, or as close as possible to, the moment. (Curley has authored four previous poetry volumes as well as several book-length prose studies.) Specific- and end-dates of the poem’s composition are provided. “[N]ot one dream of any resolution // has drifted through me since March,” he writes. To live in this poem’s surges is to be in real time.

Some of the finest cuisine simply joins ingredients to be consumed nearly at once—no hours of slow stirring. This singular poem has a remarkable finish, though. It’s not hasty. The athleticism aside, his tercets’ concatenation, in which Remnant Halo’s zeal for justice is marked through time, stays with me after closing the book. Its resolve, to be sure, is haunting.

A long poem has its own guiding star and rules of the road. Remnant Halo‘s music and tableau recall Crane’s The Bridge, but its pain is closer to Ginsberg’s Howl. The drive of the visionary, however, hearkens back to The Vision of Piers the Plowman—an encyclopedic, finely honed outragme of piercing moral acuity, which helped usher in Protestantism—the poem’s prosody and shifts of attention, its unruliness, far from London’s French niceties.

Samuel Beckett sponsors Curley’s sense of the ironic. Curley’s faith is rooted in the strength of the sixteenth-century’s Gráinne Ní Mháille (anglicized as Grace O’Malley). Swift isn’t acknowledged but his fury is here.

One thing these forbears don’t anticipate is the self-awareness of Remnant Halo. The poem’s last line is merely two words; they’re followed by arrows leading to a sphere.

This last tercet takes us full circle, to begin with a question: “How did we land here, stranded, bereft / on edge, at edge, at the end of the page?” We’re caught in an entropy of our own making, in which Curley details the “aggregate human waste / that was actually art forsaken for // state, translated into mere muddle, matter, / murder, the principle of hope / exploded….”

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