In Matthew Zapruder's fifth collection of poetry, the themes of fatherhood and uncertainty for the future loom large. Father's Day is not a drastic departure from Zapruder's previous books. It features concise poems that often stem from an unexpectedly poignant--or, in some cases, bleak--moment he's encountered in everyday life. At the center of this volume is Zapruder's son, who appears in various poems as a human about to be born, an infant capable of renewing hope and a young child on the autism spectrum learning to navigate the world--and asking his father to do the same.
In an afterword, Zapruder (The Pajamist) clarifies that his son is "not a symbol, or myth, nor, for that matter, a diagnosis," and the complexity and care reflected in poems like "My Life" and "Today" make this sentiment exceedingly clear. Anxiety and political turmoil also make frequent appearances, often as poems addressed directly to high-profile subjects like Paul Ryan and Roseanne Barr. In other cases, Zapruder's work takes the form of letters or musings to some of poetry's most acclaimed creators. He is exceptionally skilled at this form, which allows for observational patter as one might have found back when letters were a primary means of communication. Engaging with everyone from Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, W.S. Merwin and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Zapruder proves that poetry is often at its most effective when posited as a conversation. --Zack Ruskin, freelance reviewer