I Won't Begin Again

MFA Alum. Nathaniel Rosenthalis Won't Begin Again

MFA Poetry Alum. Nathaniel Rosenthalis has published his first book, "I Won't Begin Again," with Burside Review Press.

Winner of the 2021 Burnside Review Press Book Award, selected by Sommer Browning.

“They say timing is everything. I can’t remember what they say that about. Romance? Language? In Nathaniel Rosenthalis’ I WON’T BEGIN AGAIN, timing is everything is true for just about everything. From mis-overhearing small profundities on the street to ‘the motion of coming down a stair’ Rosenthalis shows that our inescapable timelines are beautiful and lonely and funny. In ‘A Ten-Minute Moment’ he slows time and guides us through that sparkling carelessness with which we first turn over an hourglass to the antsy loss we feel watching the last grain of sand fall to the bottom. He writes with an easy, abstract humor: ‘I am often,’ he says in a poem called ‘On Where I’m Not Supposed to Exist.’ He writes with a boundarylessness between the ‘I’ and all that is outside it: ‘A newspaper blows across the hardwood floor, making me want to be held. I write down “Behold.”’ These poems highlight the way the world works its constant absurdity and they help us feel okay when we realize we work that same way. A dangerous desire, love, and intimacy ripple through the poems: ‘how / hot it was when // he slammed what / a door had been, for him. / Into me.’ I get that. Damn do I get that—to feel most alive when loved and loving. It stops the clock for a moment.” —Sommer Browning

“‘My devotion, after all / is that I even got up,’ says Nathaniel Rosenthalis, belying the title of his mesmerizing debut, I Won’t Begin Again. For, in poem after poem, Rosenthalis argues for—and enacts—resilience in a world where doubt can seem ‘the architecture of the moment.’ ‘Not fantasizing, not hoping, was error also,’ and indeed these poems resist the world’s (and the self’s) instability by noticing the least detail (‘it was like / resistance // to notice, so / I did. And do’) but through a teetering of vision: a green wall is ‘millionly leafy,’ the sun ‘crumples one random can,’ which is to say that the poems are acts of reinvention, of reimagining life’s possibilities. Philosophical, surreal in the tradition of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, and slyly erotic, I Won’t Begin Again is finally a triumph of emotion, what Rosenthalis defines as ‘putting yourself over another / to make a different sense.’ I feel changed by these poems—powerfully so, gratefully.” —Carl Phillips

Get your copy, here.