Part of the BargainBook - 2005
Part of the Bargain, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award and selected from nearly 1,000 entries, is both a cabinet of curiosities and a sweep of philosophical idylls. Hightower’s poems range in style and subject, with soliloquies, laments, eccentric ponderings, and contemplations of appetite and art.
From Door to the Terrace
You withdraw from me like a match
From a final cigarette and dance every
Abandonment. The strains of music
That accompany you float away with you.
The book’s epigraph evokes a Faustian contract, which is echoed in the tensions between urban and rural, light and dark, moral and amoral action. Hightower’s influences—Sappho, Virgil, Blake, and Wilde—make their presence known as he reflects upon life in urban America after growing up in rural Texas, about coming of age as a gay man, about art and artists, poetry and painting.
From Spending the Night
Now, in another part of the country,
I hear it called “staying over.”
Back then, a couple of years
was a gaping difference.
The ornately carved door
covering the strings of an upright
melded into the headboard
of the bed . . .
Part of the Bargain also explores the imperceptible reconciliations that one makes as an individual, a part of a community, and as a conscientious heir to a culture. Valences of sexuality, nationality, literality all swirl together and perform a balancing act as the poet aspires to pull back the curtain of “the ineffable pageantry” of our multilayered lives.
Scott Hightower is the author of two books of poems, Tin Can Tourist and Natural Trouble. His writings have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Salmagundi, The Yale Review, and The Paris Review. He teaches at Fordham University and New York University and is a contributing editor to The Journal. He lives in New York City.