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Praise for The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy

Christopher Citro may be the love child of poet Russell Edson and The Twilight Zone.Now, you may protest that men and TV programs don’t mate and produce offspring. Yet I submit that in Mister Citro’s oddball, deadpan, beguiling fables such a coupling would be business as usual. A man gently slips smoke rings over a woman’s wrist like bracelets. A kid finds himself psychically stuck in the Middle Ages, as contemporary life churns around him (leading to the great phrase “trial by Jell-O”). A couple unearths a circus in their backyard. Citro’s speakers’ gee whiz, small town innocence is the perfect mindset/weapon to carry into the mutating world he creates for them. Accustomed versions of reality disintegrate in that world. From the ashes of domesticity and order a new American surrealism blooms, in which the charming, the unsettling and the strange colonize the quote unquote normal.

 ~Amy Gerstler

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There’s a fun-house effect to these poems that begins to feel deadly, or certainly dead-on, a spirited humor that pulls the scab off our droopy American moment. Could we be culturally asleep and not know it? Every art needs constant renewal—fresh eyes, a fresh voice, an original mind at work. Christopher Citro’s skilled and wisely silly book goes a long way toward renewing poetry. This is a much-welcomed and necessary kick in the pants, chock-full of quirks and delights.

 ~Maurice Manning

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Christopher Citro’s masterful debut, The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy, is part circus and part menagerie, where the 21st century quotidian rubs shoulders with boundless imagination: the figures on a ceramic Amphora come to life with an old woman eating an Egg McMuffin and a guy at the supermarket shouting into his cell phone, a family of robots move to town, a man gets a zombie replica of his own face as a gift, a therapist prescribes fireplaces to his patients. Imagination and communication drive these poems—“What? What Is It You’re Trying To Tell Me?” this book asks over and over, and Citro answers with wind-up chattering teeth as a perfect metaphor for our endless difficulties in bridging the gap between feeling and saying. Christopher Citro is a poetry pirate, plundering language and image to get at the human heart, in these luminous, inventive poems.

 ~Erika Meitner

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“Christopher Citro’s The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying, full of an antic wisdom and wit that insists on resilience over annihilation and despair. The remarkable imagination at work in these beautifully rendered poems shakes up the humdrum offering enlivening perspectives. These fables, these dancing lessons show us that “It’s not the world, but how one orients oneself towards things…” A gathering of marvelous excavations, Citro unearths wonder re-enchanting the suburbatron of the heart. Read and experience these wild, shrewd, philosophical poems and let your world be transformed.”

 ~Catherine Bowman

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Read sample poems from the book:

“Help! I’m Floating!” in The Cortland Review
I Never Intend to, How ‘Bout You?” at Verse Daily (first published in Harpur Palate)
“A Sea Voyage and the Attendant Perspective,” “For We, the Wide Awake,” “Plenty of Room Here Under the Big Top,” and “Homeschooling Is Really Taking Off” in Superstition Review
A Raising” in Rappahannock Review
If Only I’d Thought of It” in Nashville Review
Apparently, I’m Not a Joiner” in B O D Y
Sword Swallowers in Transition” in the minnesota review
Stop Doing That” at Broadsided

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Published by Steel Toe Books, 2015

Cover image by Marie Rosen

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