LAST ONE OUT IS A VERY BEAUTIFUL BOOK . . . IT SINGS”

HILBERT, Ernest. Last One Out. Evansville, IN: Measure Press, 2019. Tall octavo, full fossil-gray cloth, pictorial dust jacket. $25. ISBN-13: 978-1939574299

Available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon France, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books a Million, Waterstones (UK), Book Depository, Russell Books (Canada), Readings (Australia), Fishpond (Australia), Booktopia (Australia), Adlibris (Denmark), Kraina Ksiazek (Poland), Alibris, BOL (Netherlands, Belgium), Adlibris (Finland), Percuma Penghantaran (Malaysia), Wordery, directly from the publisher, and in better bookstores (if it is not in stock, most booksellers can have it within a day or two on request).

Ernest Hilbert’s fourth collection, Last One Out, traces the poet’s life from childhood memories of his father, both elegiac and nostalgic, to poems of celebration on the birth of his own son. Along the way, myth and history mingle with private reminiscences, drawing the reader from the haunted halls of the Chelsea Hotel to tank-littered Sinai battlefields, the tough streets of Philadelphia to the siege of Leningrad, as he dines with representatives from Vatican Museum, rows in the Oxford dawn, and scales retreating glaciers. This new volume finds Hilbert in his element, always the daring explorer, avid performer, and vexed observer of the terrors and temptations of the modern world and the troubled history from which it proceeds. Last One Out represents a decade’s effort, an astonishing achievement and essential reading.

Poet Ilya Kaminsky proclaims “Last One Out is a very beautiful book. It sings.” Jason Guriel, author of The Pigheaded Soul: Essays and Reviews on Poetry and Culture, writes “These are well-made, moving poems, designed with our pleasure in mind.” Robert Archambeau, author of Inventions of a Barbarous Age: Poetry from Conceptualism to Rhyme, calls Last One Out “a journey, taking us from images of the poet as bereaved son to a portrait of the poet as protective and loving father. Take the trip.”

The poems in the collection first appeared in Academic Questions (National Association of Scholars), American Arts Quarterly, American Journal of Poetry, American Poet (Academy of American Poets), Asheville Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Battersea Review, Boston Review, Clarion (Boston Poetry Union), Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, The Dark Horse, Drunken Boat, Edinburgh Review, Fruita Pulp, Hopkins Review, Horizon Review, Jacket, Literary Imagination, Literary Matters, Measure, Meridian, Modern Drunkard, The New Criterion, The New Republic, Oxonian Review, Parnassus, Per Contra, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pleiades, Plume, Poetry Northeast, Raintown Review, Sewanee Review, Smartish Pace, Southwest Review, Think Journal, Verse, Vocabula Review, and The Yale Review. “Mars Ultor” appeared in Best American Poetry 2018, published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster. It was also included in the protest anthology Donald Trump: The Magazine of Poetry.

The following poems appeared in the chapbook Aim Your Arrows at the Sun, LATR Editions, New York City, in an edition of 250 copies, hand-sewn, in letterpress wrappers: “On Passing the Remains of a T-62 in the Sinai,” “At the 100th Anniversary of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association at the Royal Geographical Society,” “Haunts,” “Aim Your Arrows at the Sun,” “Bread and Circuses,” “As the Lost Kings Uphold My Side,” “Dining with Representatives of the Vatican Museum,” “Surrender of Breda,” and “Disasters of War.” “Great White Fleet” and “In Memory of a Writer” were reprinted in The Best of The Raintown Review: 2010-2015. “The Haywain” appeared on the website Poetry Daily. “Against the Art of War” originally appeared in a letterpress edition Against the Art of War, published by Temporary Culture, with three tipped-in aquatint etchings by London-based Canadian artist Judith Clute and an additional anti-war poem by Henry Wessells, printed by David Wolfe of Portland, Maine, hand-bound in paste-paper boards, in an edition of 26 lettered copies, signed by the authors and the artist, and five numbered copies reserved for artist, authors, and printer. Institutional collections holding copies of the book include the Lilly Library (Indiana University), Rubenstein Library (Duke University), the Beinecke Library (Yale University), and Poets House in New York City.

SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION

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“My Father’s Dante” was selected as a Laureates’ Choice for the 2016 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. “Rowing in the Dawn” appeared in 2014 as a limited-edition full-color broadside from Lithic Press in Colorado. “Martini” appeared as a signed limited-edition broadside designed by artist Jessica Tanny and issued by the Cambridge Public Library on the occasion of Ernest Hilbert’s reading there on November 13th, 2014, in an edition of 60 numbered copies, 1-10 signed by author, artist, and promoter Daniel Wuenschel, 11-25 signed by Hilbert only, 26-40 and 51-60 unsigned, and 41-50 signed by Hilbert exclusively for subscribers, including the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University.

A recording of Hilbert reading “Haunts,” recorded by Danielle Fox, aired twice on WHYY FM, Philadelphia’s NPR Station, 90.9 MHz, as part of a National Poetry Month feature on Morning Edition, hosted by Jennifer Lynn, on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018. “Kingsessing Avenue” appeared as part of the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s “Write Your Block” project, documenting Philadelphia neighborhoods. A recording of “Walnut Street” was broadcast on Georgia State Radio, WRAS 88.5 FM, and its affiliates on May 1st, 2015 as part of the program “Locals Only: Philly.”

The epigraph to chapter three is from the Anglo-Saxon poem known as “The Wanderer,” which appears in Codex Exoniensis or The Exeter Book. It may be translated as “Where is the giver of treasure? / Where are the places at the feast? / Where are the celebrations in the hall?” Non Omnis Moriar appears in Horace’s Carmina 3/30:6 and may be translated as “I shall not wholly die.” The cover photograph by Matthew Wright was taken on Old Highway 99 South, Ashland, Oregon, 97520, latitude 42.0919, longitude -122.5896, with a Nikon D850 on a 30 second delay, f/16 24mm. Publication events for the book took place at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia and the Grolier Club in New York City. First issue, with “motions of a ghosts” on rear dust jacket panel and “author photograph by Richard Malouf, © 2015” on copyright page.