Marriage Map by Owen Lewis


Marriage Map is not the usual love story. This book of poems begins with a meeting—”The Day the Crane Fell” and “Broadway and 8th”—and ends with a Chagall- like, Klezmer-filled marriage. The intended are not young lovers with their life stories yet to unfold. Though much lies ahead many life chapters would seem to have concluded—or have they? Between meeting and marriage are the poems of the map, how they learn to listen to one another, to hear the voices of family, past lovers, divorce and death that live within; how they learn to hear what is genuine and enduring.

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 110
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: February, 2017
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-72-3


“It’s dangerous to be alive and lonely.” In Marriage Map, Owen Lewis gives us a treasure-trove of meditations that explore how love vexes and vindicates us. In these deeply affecting poems of keen eye and lyrical precision, memories are sonic and ghosts almost breathe: “We bring an in-gathering/of exiles, taken from themselves/scattered along the rivers of home.” This poet shows us there are great gifts found beneath fury and the ways we inevitably fail each other, and he exalts the beauty and redemption of love when it achieves its highest self. “I leave her a picture. I leave/a whole lover.” Lewis leaves us with a whole, fuller comprehension of love through one heart’s journey that lingers long after turning the last page, truly gathering “all the years in one song.” —Kamilah Aisha Moon

In Marriage Map, Owen Lewis locates us in our many journeys of self-knowledge: we find ourselves reeling in sorrow and reawakened by death, rebuffed by anger and yet renewed in love. Like the true healer and poet that Lewis is, the speaker of these haunting, indelible poems shows us that to find our way we must risk losing everything—that to live, we must speak. —Rafael Campo

The poems of Owen Lewis’s Marriage Map take their inspiration from Athena’s owl that had the ability to enlighten the goddess’s dark side. It is the same owl that flies “beyond the moon in the poem “Two Dreams,” the same owl that flies up the stairwell in a house haunted and defined by separation, the same owl that “skims the night river/like a single wing/of the moon,” and the same owl—in a figure of hard-earned wisdom—that finally offers its example to lovers who also “mean to fly,” to be made whole beyond “the names of loss” and life’s inevitable “mingling of hurts.” Aware as they are that each day becomes history, these deeply felt, unsparing, wise, and urgently crafted poems chart a passage to recovery, healing, celebration. Owen Lewis’s Marriage Map has the feel of hard-won truth—poetry that knows its territory. —Daniel Tobin


Jumping Dogs
(after the painting by Geoffrey Moss)

forever stretching
arcs of contrary leaping
over the pink and orange sofa

how in this painting
the drips tell
a story of imperfection

and those dogs
finding each other mid-air
like you and I


Owen LewisOwen Lewis, the recipient of the 2016 International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, is the author of Best Man (Winner of the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize, New England Poetry Club), Sometimes Full of Daylight, and March in San Miguel. He has received awards from The Mississippi Review, Connecticut River Review, Kent and Sussex Poetry Society (UK), London School of Jewish Studies (UK), Ver Poets (UK), and The Amherst Writers and Artists Press. He is a psychiatrist and professor at Columbia University where he teaches with the narrative medicine group.

Additional information

Weight 9 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in