Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
I Am Flying into Myself

I Am Flying into Myself

Selected Poems, 1960-2014

Bill Knott; Edited and with an introduction by Thomas Lux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BUY THE BOOK

Hardcover

A selection of Bill Knott’s life work—testimony of his enduring, “thorny genius” (Robert Pinsky)

Going to sleep, I cross my hands on my chest.
They will place my hands like this.
It will look as though I am flying into myself.

For half a century, Bill Knott’s brilliant, vaudevillian verse electrified the poetic form. Over his long career, he studiously avoided joining any one school of poetry, preferring instead to freewheel from French surrealism to the avant-garde and back again—experimenting relentlessly and refusing to embrace straightforward dialectics. Whether drawing from musings on romantic love or propaganda from the Vietnam War, Knott’s quintessential poems are alive with sensory activity, abiding by the pulse and impulse of a pure, restless emotion. This provocative, playful sensibility has ensured that his poems have a rare and unmistakable immediacy, effortlessly crystalizing thought in all its moods and tenses.

An essential contribution to American letters, I am Flying into Myself gathers a selection of Knott’s previous volumes of poetry, published between 1960 and 2004, as well as verse circulated online from 2005 until a few days before his death in 2014. His work—ranging from surrealistic wordplay to the anti-poem, sonnets, sestinas, and haikus—all convenes in this inventive and brilliant book, arranged by his friend the poet Thomas Lux, to showcase our American Rimbaud, one of the true poetic innovators of the last century.

I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960-2014 celebrates one of poetry’s most determined outsiders, a vitally important American poet richly deserving of a wider audience.

Reviews

Praise for I Am Flying into Myself

“Remarkable . . . Colored with the originality and lyrical nimbleness . . . This book serves as a treasury of Knott’s colossal talent--a true treasury, which merits being treasured for the way it showcases the range and consistently high quality of his poetic output . . . Lux’s conversational and comprehensive introduction provides immense and balanced insight into Knott the person and Knott the poet . . . Now that he is really gone and this distilled treasury is in print, one of our best and most arresting poets might get the bigger audience he deserved. Bill Knott is dead. Long live Bill Knott.” —Kathleen Rooney, New York Times Book Review

"“Every poet should be lucky enough to have his work edited with such care and discussed with such admiration as Thomas Lux” —The Harvard Review

“His insurgent D.I.Y. purity is on full display in I Am Flying Into Myself . . . Knott’s poems claim a peculiar kind of privacy, as though he confiscated his lines from public view in order to mete them out on his own stubborn terms. The result is a tangle of sweetness, irritability, hospitality, and paranoia . . . Knott was a poet of zany precision, the zaniness usually coming right away, often in the first line, followed by quite meticulous workings out of his oddball premises. He is, at his best, a poet of home-brewed koans, threading his philosophical paradoxes into scenes of slacker glamour.” —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

“I felt surges of jealousy over the simple brilliance of his comparisons. No modern poet I know shuffles together such tenderness of heart with such wild metaphoric play . . . As eccentric in his life as his poems are on the page, Knott has often been considered an acquired taste, but this substantial gathering, carefully edited by Thomas Lux, should secure for Knott an undeniable place on the map of American poetry.” —Billy Collins, New York Times Book Review, Year in Reading

“He wrote some of the most brilliant, strange, and subversive poetry America has ever seen. This posthumous selection is an attempt by Knott's longtime friend, the poet Thomas Lux, to organize his legacy and make it presentable. Perhaps something essential is lost in curtailing the chaos that Knott himself created, but we are also profoundly lucky not to have this extraordinary body of work cast into oblivion.”
—Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR Books

“This was the collection many of us had long been waiting for . . . Knott’s poems relentlessly compress language and his lines distill to their throbbing quick.” —Janaka Stucky, Publishers Weekly

“I Am Flying into Myself brings Bill Knott’s natural surrealism into acute focus, and Thomas Lux’s introduction makes this doubly true. This visionary is homegrown, of Midwestern soil; he surprises in an original language and sentiment. Always youthful, playful and dead serious, he teases us: “Going to sleep, I cross my hands on my chest./They will place my hands like this./It will look as though I am flying into myself.” There’s no other poet like Bill Knott, and this selection of his poems is a windfall for anyone who dares to embrace this eccentric voice made in America.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa

“Bill Knott, audacious, a meteor shower of contradictions, infuriating enough to piss off the Good Humor man, a great deadpan comic, and, the jury is in, a poet 24/7. Thomas Lux does Knott the honor of not setting the crooked straight. I Am Flying into Myself is Knott alive, thorns and all.”
—William Corbett

“Bill Knott was one of the very best American poets of the past fifty years, and book gives proof of that. He is also one of the most original poets of that period, able to make readers laugh or cry or scratch their heads, often all at the very same time.” —Stephen Dobyns

“Bill Knott’s poems are the poems of a genius imagination that wrestles with terror, hilarity, and humanity. Knott is a moral poet, by which I mean his poems are never merely funny or decorative. He nails his syllables with determination and grace creating great poems that speak, unfiltered and unmitigated, to America. Guided by Thomas Lux’s brilliant and kind introduction, Bill Knott’s I Am Flying into Myself is a beloved compilation.”
—Denise Duhamel

“The two great lyric forces, music and imagination, propel these poems—purely, with no puffed-up baloney or low calculation. A bracing, as well as heartbreaking, book of poems, beautifully selected and framed.” —Robert Pinsky

“Thomas Lux’s selection perfectly represents the legacy of Bill Knott, a poet like no other whose work brilliantly displayed his many sides—morose and zany; tender and grave; pained and playful; passionate, compassionate, and scathingly satirical—they are all here, buoyant with Knott’s unmistakable lilt despite the storms in his heart.” —John Skoyles

“Bill Knott writes stunning poems in which he wires the head to the heart in such surprising ways that the results are truly electrifying. More than anyone of his generation, he shows us just how wild American poetry can be.” —Billy Collins

“The man Richard Hell described as ‘a perfect asshole wonderpoet’ was always an outlier. His work is tender, strange, deeply pained, and full of wit. He owes a little coin to Hopkins, a little to several others, no doubt, but Knott, in the end, is sui generis. To encounter his spirit in this collection is to recognize what one poem calls “devastating sentience.” Thomas Lux has curated a valuable exhibit of Knott’s dioramas, most of them smaller than your hand. Reach out and taste them.”
—Kim Addonizio

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Bill Knott; Edited and with an introduction by Thomas Lux

Bill Knott was born in Carson City, Michigan, in 1940 and died in Bay City, Michigan, in 2014. His first book, The Naomi Poems, was written under the pen name St. Geraud (1940–1966) and published to great acclaim in 1968. Between 1968 and 2004, he published eleven full-length books of poems. He taught at Emerson College in Boston for twenty-five years.

Bill Knott

Courtesy of Emerson College Archive

Bill Knott

Thomas Lux

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER