Poems that hit you in the head and heart with image after stunning image

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Poetry finalist:

Dreaming Man, Face Down
Mark Conway
Dream Horse Press
Category Sponsor: Wellington Management


An excerpt from Dreaming Man, Face Down:

Then it was gone, the beatitude
of your body,
*********while the rest lay
******specifically there,
black, black, blue, heavy
as a dead dog, the back
of your legs
*********looking plastic, looking extra, trailing
***behind the rest of you
like a mooch, like a goddamn moron and you
barely there,
****already caravaggioing your way
through the light
*********and dark, mouthing the prime numbers
**of eternity …

In this collection, the poet addresses death and dying. Topics such as love, regret, ghosts and absence are woven throughout the book.


Mark Conway is the author of Any Holy City, which won the Gerald Cable Book Award and was short-listed for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Slate, American Poetry Review, and Ploughshares.


“Reading these poems, I hear the clatter of my own footsteps through cities of hieroglyphs and pinball machines—a paradise run-through with ghosts, whom Conway conjures with grit and grace. Dreaming Man, Face Down hits me in the head and heart with image after stunning image, and the hard true language of love and regret.” – Tracy K. Smith

“Someone dies – it’s an anti-miracle. He was here and now he is gone. How is this possible? Deep, persistent and comic too, Mark Conway wrestles with the phenomenal entity of absence without giving an inch.” – Fanny Howe

“These poems are electric with indignation and holy rage and love for the ‘hyper-beauty’ of what and who is doomed to die: everything we know and every one. Oh Lord, read this book. It made me laugh out loud and put my head in my hands. It made me look out the window and be glad.” – Marie Howe

“Dreaming Man, Face Down is lyrical and haunting, sonic and dreamlike; the mood of the book stayed with me long after I shut it.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge

“I admire Dreaming Man, Face Down so much. I am in awe of Mark Conway’s music, and the way he keeps coming at loss and death—letting the reader in, but leaving so many things as hard as they really are.”  – MN Book Awards preliminary judge


Click here to listen to Mark Conway read his poem, “Tarot Card of the Dreaming Man, Face Down.”

Click here to hear an audio interview with renowned poet Mark Conway, Director of the Literary Arts Institute at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, who chats with Luke Mancuso, highlighting Literary Arts Institute programs and writers on campus, and reads his own and other poets’ poems.


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Dreaming Man, Face Down? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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