|These essays concern pedagogy, poetry, and WASP culture: the rules and secrets, the joys and tribulations of belonging. At the heart of these lyrical investigations are the bond between father and son, the weight of expectation and disappointment, and the paralysis of privilege. In this, his first collection, Michael Milburn offers a blessing of patience to his readers. May we do as he has done, may we outlive our youthful indifference to what we are taught by others and embrace our capacity to think for ourselves.
"Not many poets coach lacrosse teams. But it is the improbable connections in his life that make Milburn such a refreshingly unpredictable essayist. Although his essays probe a wide range of topics—including sports, AIDS, and divorce—Milburn most consistently and passionately focuses on poetry: how to read it, write it, and teach it. But as a maverick prep-school instructor, [he] will also appeal to parents, teachers, and counselors faced with the challenge of guiding adolescents. And as the divorced father of a son whom he sees too seldom and the son of a newly blind father who can no longer see him at all, Milburn speaks poignantly to all who cope with family distress. An authentic and engaging voice."—Booklist
"Enjoyable and thought-provoking essays. The author reflects on events in his life that have led him to a deeper understanding of and appreciation for background and family and how those events have influenced him personally. Some of the essays are profound, like 'Chance of a Lifetime,' in which Milburn bemoans his WASP upbringing and his family's rigid expectations. Others are riddled with irony, as when he escapes to London to remove himself from the stifling confines of Harvard and to seek out inspiration for his writing. While there, he takes on menial work and befriends a day laborer with a criminal history who turns out to be better read in American literature than he is. [In] the second half, Milburn describes the methods he uses to engage students and inspire them to appreciate literature and writing."—Library Journal
"Michael Milburn is clear-eyed, beautifully honest, and sensitive to the subtlest distinction, whether he is looking at his life, the secret life of poetry, or, as happens throughout this rich book of essays, both together."—Sven Birkerts
"For years I have admired Michael Milburn's personal, literary, and pedagogical essays. Like his poems, these essays are graceful, rigorous, lucid, and huge-hearted. His essays on teaching poetry should be required reading for every teacher in America. This is a splendid book."—Thomas Lux