A collection of moving and tender poems that delves into questions of masculinity, fatherhood, home, and learning to live in and love one’s own body.
In his second full-length poetry collection, Chicago-born poet Dan “Sully” Sullivan considers the male body—its momentum and privilege when moving through the world, but also its softness and vulnerability. As the poems unfold and questions unravel, the book challenges wider social systems that uphold patriarchal notions of masculinity, seeking to achieve a new register of compassion, of self-love.
O Body is also a migration narrative, navigating the physical distances between cities—the speaker’s movement between Chicago and his new home in Bloomington—and beyond that, the expansive, immeasurable distances within the self. Cityscapes come alive on the page and relationships bloom and deepen as Sully explores love, fatherhood, and family; here, traditional assumptions regarding masculinity and beauty are called into question through the speaker’s tenderhearted wondering.
As more and more people awaken to the realization that the patriarchy oppresses people of all genders, Sully’s work in O Body offers a much-needed narrative of that shifting perspective. This deeply self-aware and big-hearted book holds space for reflecting on one’s physical body and interiority: the complex relationship between the two as well as their intricate and often fraught connections to the wider community and the places we call home.
“Dan ‘Sully’ Sullivan’s O Body is an act of profound and sweet wondering. The word I mean is care–for the home of one’s own body, and the shelter we might make of each other. When he emerges, he brings with him devotion: to a city, a home, a partner, a daughter, all of them with their own permanent rooms in this luminous, this accidental, this precious, O body.”
—Ross Gay, author of Be Holding: A Poem
“Sully’s work feels to me like some version of Chicago I fell in love with once: tender, insecure and imperfect, on the verge of something truly astounding.These poems speak of a city that feels like a body: soft even when softness is a liability, hard at the corners, and complicated as hell.”
—Nate Marshall, author of FINNA
“The voice of this collection is as profound as it is unassuming: here are timely, piercing odes, cognizant of loss yet veering always in the direction of praise, gratitude, and awe.”
—Shara McCallum, author of No Ruined Stone
“O Body is intimate—these are tavern style poems to be shared with friends and strangers over beer and pizza. I read O Body in one sitting. I laughed and gasped and cussed because of how good these poems are.”
—José Olivarez, author of Promises of Gold
"From an icon in the Chicago spoken word scene comes O Body, a powerful work of poetry that explores the body in all its potential power and vulnerability. Sullivan leaves us with much to reflect on, but perhaps one of the most interesting threads is the narrative he tells of moving between his hometown of Chicago and his new home of Bloomington and the way it created an immeasurable distance within his own self."
—Michael Welch, Editor-In-Chief, Chicago Review of Books