The poems of Toby Olson are essential reading for anyone who cares about the meaning and feeling of love, kinship, mortality, and poetry. He's that rarest of writers, a first-rate novelist who writes first-rate poetry, and vice versa. This book reminds us of that.—Russell Banks
Human Nature is the first book of new poems by the poet and novelist Toby Olson since We Are the Fire (New Directions. 1984). The intervening years saw five of his novels published to strong critical acclaim. "But," says Olson, "one day I woke from fiction to discover I’d not written a poem in close to ten years. How to return to poetry after being away from it so long?" Certainly not in repetition of things done before. In Human Nature, Olson joins the novelist’s art to the poet’s through remembrances of friends and events in times gone by. "In Human Nature," he says, "even the most autobiographical poems let fiction in."