Bad Hobby

Bad Hobby

Kathy Fagan


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From Kingsley Tufts Award finalist Kathy Fagan comes Bad Hobby, a perceptive collection focused on memory, class, and might-have-beens.


In a working-class family that considers sensitivity a “fatal diagnosis,” how does a child grow up to be a poet? What happens when a body “meant to bend & breed” opts not to, then finds itself performing the labor of care regardless? Why do we think our “common griefs” so singular? Bad Hobby is a hard-earned meditation on questions like these—a dreamscape speckled with swans, ghosts, and weather updates.


Fagan writes with a kind of practical empathy, lamenting pain and brutality while knowing, also, their inevitability. A dementing father, a squirrel limp in the talons of a hawk, a “child who won’t ever get born”: with age, Fagan posits, the impact of ordeals like these changes. Loss becomes instructive. Solitude becomes a shared experience. “You think your one life precious—”

And Bad Hobby thinks—hard. About lineage, about caregiving. About time. It paces “inside its head, gazing skyward for a noun or phrase to / shatter the glass of our locked cars & save us.” And it does want to save us, or at least lift us, even in the face of immense bleakness, or loneliness, or the body changing, failing. “Don’t worry, baby,” Fagan tells us, the sparrow at her window. “We’re okay.”


Kathy Fagan:

Kathy Fagan is the author of Bad Hobby and Sycamore, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award. She is also the author of four previous collections, including The Charm; The Raft, winner of the National Poetry Series; and MOVING & ST RAGE, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize. Fagan’s work has appeared in venues such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Poetry, The Nation, the New Republic, Best American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and an Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship, and served as the Frost Place poet in residence. Fagan is cofounder of the MFA program at The Ohio State University, where she teaches poetry, and coedits the Wheeler Poetry Prize Book Series for The Journal and The Ohio State University Press.