The Small Mystery of Lapses


The Small Mystery of Lapses



Christopher Burawa is a poet and translator. He was born in Reykjavik, Iceland. He holds an M.A. in English Language & Literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. He was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2003. His translations of the contemporary Icelandic poet, Jóhann Hjálmarsson, Of the Same Mind, won the Toad Press International Chapbook Competition and was published in summer 2005. Currently, he is the Director of Literature and Public Information Officer for the Arizona Commission on the Arts. His book of poems, The Small Mystery of Lapses, was published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2006. He was awarded the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize in 2010. He is the Director of the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.

“In the richly detailed poems of Christopher Burawa’s first collection, The Small Mystery of Lapses,the narrative inclination of a fabulist is the accelerant that fuels a remarkable and incandescent imagination. Burawa leads us deftly and confidently in his poems from the familiar to the strange without provoking estrangement. For in a Burawa poem we have no doubt that when ‘[m]oths wake up,’ they ‘mistake the blue milk in the buckets / for starlight.’ The Small Mystery of Lapses marks the fresh and energetic appearance of a promising poet.” –Michael Collier

“In these spectacular first poems by Christopher Burawa, I begin to hallucinate the characters in a kind of pantomime that has in the past distinguished writers such as Joseph Conrad; there is Geppetto’s paste pot and the shiny foil of a local apocalypse, ghosts of Stalinists with spears of dried cod flaming up behind them on a pier in Iceland, and then the harlequins of a first-person narrative that crosses the river or doesn’t. Melodious and irritable, aspiring and brooding, I mean to say, these are poems from one of the most brilliant first books of a new millennium.” –Norman Dubie

“Christopher Burawa gives shape to the mysterious with images that are surprising and transformative: ‘As luck has it, / I’ m sitting in the clover, staring at her / with all the eyes grown out of my loneliness.’ Burawa’ s voice so effortlessly interweaves experience and imagination that we do not feel like readers so much as lucky inhabitants of the world he creates. Here is the smell of earth, an acute sense of the landscapes we carry in us, the fragility of history, an alchemy of wonder and loss, ‘the bordering trees [waving] // like confirmed bachelors without curtains.’ By turns lyrical, meditative, slyly surreal, Burrawa is a poet of astonishing presence and originality.” –Beckian Fritz Goldberg



Publication Date



Cleveland State University Poetry Center





The Small Mystery of Lapses