Failed State: Haibun

Failed State cover with image of waiting room with televison displaying flamesVia Negativa Books, 2021
96 pages, 6″ x 9″

US $15.89 / UK £14.47
IndieBound / / Amazon / Amazon UK /

Hardcover, imagewrap (i.e. no slipcover)
US $28.00 / UK £20.19
available only through Blurb

Digital (PDF)
US $4.99 / UK £2.99
free to reviewerscontact me for a copy

The personal meets the political in this collection of experimental haibun (prose + haiku), drawn as much from dreams as from the all-too-real nightmares of an imperialist, carceral state in decline. Check out the Preview (full content) or scroll down for some film adaptations.

I self-published this because events were beginning to overtake it, and I was worried about it growing stale. Almost all of the haibun were written well before 2020 with its pandemic-related insanity and riots. If the economic downturn has left you broke, I’m happy to send along the PDF as long as you promise to publish a review or reaction at least 250 words long in a blog, on social media, or in any poetry-friendly online or print periodical. It doesn’t have to be a glowing review, merely an honest one. If it strikes me as fair and thoughtful, I’ll be sure to link back from here (and Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

I try to avoid didacticism in this book, so I don’t think you need to share my left-wing politics in order to enjoy it. There is a trigger warning for graphic descriptions of interrogation and torture in Part IV, “Human Resources”, which consists of erasure haibun from the CIA’s Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual.

“So many of these either burst my heart open or made me bust out laughing. His short haiku following the prose capture the essence of the piece. He has a sharp intellect, wide knowledge, and a wicked sense of humor.”
Julene Tripp Weaver

“These haibun reflect ripples from Syria, Somalia, and Libya. And the orange-tinted flames of our own little corner of chaos. But Dave does not begin his collection with political concerns, at least not in the traditional sense. He begins from his front porch. … This may sound like a frightening journey, but it is worthwhile.”
James Collins

“The erasure haibuns blew me away. The whole Sleeper Cell section was wonderful. Treat yourself! Because sometimes facing something difficult square is itself a weird kind of comfort.”
Ren Powell

“A provocative syllabus of dark and funny haibun. These poems are such a dry wine.”
Lesley Wheeler

“The image/word choices, the humor, the irony — the sense, also, of disaster and chaos — all work together well. And yes, timely.”
Ann E. Michael

“A helluva read.”
James Brush