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Falling Body
February 2009

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March 2015

The Somnambulist and The Good Life

David Cavanagh

ISBN: 978-1-912561-85-8

Page Count: 76

Publication Date: Thursday, March 05, 2020

Cover Artwork: ‘Keep Going’ by Sharon Webster

About this Book

The poems in The Somnambulist and the Good Life, David Cavanagh’s fifth book, probe what it means to be attentive in this life, the pain and beauty of living with open eyes and heart. They consider the dangers of sleepwalking through existence, as well as the mysterious power of what lies below the surface of awareness. Dealing with relationships, the environment, gun violence, dying, birds’ flight, musical earworms and more, these poems explore with precision and clarity the urgent need for an engaged thoughtfulness if “the good life” is to be anything more than a sad irony.

The heart beats. The open heart knows
what has gone before, what harms,
what helps. The hurt heart turns 
inward, then out, and without 
ignoring anything

“This is the poetry of a man with an eye for the smallest of things and their tragedy. Or their joy. Or their divinity — and all of the above. I want to write out all the images in this work that changed my own sight, but that would be telling. For the beauty of this writing is the way that Cavanagh lets his readers see each poem’s discovery with the corners of their own eyes. It’s a subtle art, and rare, and through this book’s pervasive figure of the sleepwalker, this is a poet who leads us to understand that, set to words, every poem is the private truth of a dream.”

Richard Harrison
author of On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood, 
winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry

“Cavanagh’s best poems achieve not only clarity but also a poignancy that derives from simple wisdom expressed with great vividness and grace.”
Benjamin Myers
past poet laureate of Oklahoma in World Literature Today

“Cavanagh can be funny and doleful at once, or tender and roguish. His syntax can coil, then snap,…”
Jim Schley 
in Seven Days

Author Biography

The Somnambulist and the Good Life is David Cavanagh’s fifth collection of poems. Earlier books include Straddle, Falling Body, and The Middleman, all published by Salmon Poetry, and Cycling in Plato’s Cave, from Fomite Press. David’s poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and the U.K.  Born and raised in Montreal, he lives in Burlington, Vermont, where for many years he was an associate dean at Johnson State College (now Northern Vermont University).  

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