“Ah, writ happens.” Like the con men who rely on thieves' Latin to ply their trade, the poems in Peter Jay Shippy's award-winning collection don't play well with other poems. They are difficult. They rave. They are unsettling and blunt. They crash cars and ride tsunamis and hitch rides on tugs. They also provide a contemporary, ironic, and tender view of America, all the while layering wordplay, cleverness, and sentiment.
“Thieves’ Latin is a delightful introduction to a poet whose wit and wordplay counterpoint a fierce poetic inquiry.”—The Antioch Review
“What binds the marvelous to the mundane is the constant arc of mind. In Thieves' Latin, Peter Jay Shippy articulates that mind, catching its accents in acts of nature, of culture, and of the Divine. Here I sense a bright, bright motion, and it is thrilling.” —Donald Revell, author of Arcady
“ ‘Nothing / can replace the intimacy between / an object and its human,' says Peter Jay Shippy. The intimacy of all these poems fills in the gaps between language-objects and reader-subjects. Shippy's strange little machines of words are all kinetic, disturbing, and weirdly graceful, unlike anything else available in American poetry. A dazzling book.” — Bin Ramke, author of Airs, Waters, Places
“In Peter Jay Shippy's debut collection, the function of image proliferates. Reading, I'm reminded of Andy Warhol's comment in his journal: 'The snow looks very beautiful, real even.' Everywhere in Thieves’ Latin the natural is enhanced or destroyed by the human imagination. Shippy has written a surrealist elegy for the earth, 'whistling hardcore gabba and / breakbeat techno versions of “The Internationale.’ ” A fierce accomplishment.” — Claudia Keelan, author of Utopic
Winner 2002 Iowa Poetry Prize