Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape

Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape is now available to order from Unicorn Press or from Powell’s Books.

Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape, the debut poetry collection by
Stephen Lackaye, explores the post-industrial disquiet of the Rust
Belt as a crucible for self creation. Lackaye brings life to a city of
figures who try to reckon a subtle menace that lingers just beyond
sure sight. A man who knows he is being watched contemplates
the life of his voyeur. A laborer returning home hears a trap clap
shut on someone in the woods and wonders if he can save the
victim—if there is indeed someone to save. A youth recollects his
early education in hand-to-hand combat, unsure of what violence
he was ever capable of. Throughout Self-Portrait in Dystopian
Landscape, Lackaye anneals these stories in a bright fire of lyrical
mastery. These poems prompt us to find the border between the
darkness within and the darkness without, to recover from the
ruinous landscape the outlines of one’s own self.

Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape was selected by poet and short
story author Valerie Nieman as the winner of the 2015-2016
Unicorn Press First Book Competition. In making her selection,
Nieman praises the energy and personal depth of the book’s
startling, apocalyptic world.

What Others Are Saying:

In his masterful and powerful debut collection of poems, Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape, Stephen Lackaye’s sweeping and muscular meditations enfold the piercing reflections of their speaker with luminous broad-stroked sketches of his passage through the urban (and a few natural) landscapes of this precarious time. This is an incisive, deeply wise, and illuminating collection of poems—a superb new voice has joined the ever-shifting landscape of contemporary American poetry.  –David St. John

Bereft and lost as Odysseus going home, the singer of these poems wanders a place where a butterfly is a knife, a brother a ghost, and “all that’s possible betrays us.” The hero of Stephen Lackaye’s Self-Portrait in Dystopian  Landscape is a cunning warrior left to his wits, and poem after poem deepens the story of his survival. What rings out in the end astounds me–something tender and lovely and new. What an amazing poet, what a gorgeous book. — Steve Scafidi

Very few young poets are brave enough to embrace silence in order to listen intently to the murmurings of the mind. Stephen Lackaye is one of them, and his extraordinary debut, Self-Portrait in a Dystopian Landscape, embodies that bravery and wisdom. This book is a life-affirming instrument of truth. By means of sly wit, arresting imagery, and a mature lyric craft, it persuades us to transcend the intimate and public wreckages of our present moment. — David Roderick