Border Crossings

Selected Poems

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Sensitive Skin is proud to present Border Crossings, acclaimed writer Thaddeus Rutkowski’s first full-length collection of poetry.

Border Crossings is Thaddeus Rutkowski’s first full-length collection of poetry. The “crossings” of the title are both geographical and psychological. In some of the poems, the speaker travels from one country to another. In others, he moves from one state of mind to another. His topics are his rural childhood and Asian heritage, his adult life in New York City, and his relation (throughout his journeys) to people, animals and nature. All of these short, first-person poems shed light on these topics through vivid, accessible language. Rutkowski strikes chords by describing experiences we’ve all had.

“In Border Crossings, Thaddeus Rutkowski collects an engrossing narrative of one-page poems that mine autobiographical terrain with a nuanced eye—the borders we devour while surviving the detritus we absorb. The writer’s mechanism is to unfurl the speed of his imagination across new territories unlocked at every reading. Rutkowski understands that in maneuvering brief cinematic bites, the psychological glimpse can be a marvel of the subconscious—an intermorphed parallel reality, envisioned from edge more than center. With the storytelling facility of a novelist who skims the underbelly of the everyday, like Miyazaki with a shiv, Rutkowski places us squarely in line with his enormously creative yet quiet precision to expose the human vulnerabilities that we can’t help but live through, for “it’s the people, mainly the people / that we have come to see.”

—Edwin Torres, author of Ameriscopia.

“There is an eerie and edgy appeal to Rutkowski’s spare poems and in his sly, deadpan humor as he takes potshots at an absurdist world. Sometimes playful, ultimately serious, the poet brings an unusual heritage—Polish and Chinese—to his observations of travels in China and about farm work (he grew up in central Pennsylvania). He also shows a Buddhist-like respect for wolf spiders, beetles and birds. One ends up cheering this poet’s curiosity and humanity, wanting more stories, more poems.”

—Colette Inez, author of The Luba Poems

“Thaddeus Rutkowski’s book Border Crossings is a collection of mind-crossing, relentless poems—the work of a person abiding in two worlds, never quite comfortable in either. The poems are straightforward, reflecting his American side, but they are rich with references to the world of his Chinese mother. In “Mother’s Advice” he’s told to “walk to the water circle, / dive to the bottom, / and nail your question / to the dragon’s door.” It is this near-voyeurism that leads Rutkowski to the truth he finds in words.”

—Bertha Rogers, founding director, Bright Hill Press


Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of the prose books Guess and Check, Violent Outbursts, Haywire, Tetched and Roughhouse. Haywire won the Members’ Choice Award, given by the Asian American Writers Workshop in New York. His stories have appeared in Copper Nickel, Faultine, Fiction, Fiction International, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The International Herald Tribune, Little Patuxent Review, Nassau Review, The New York Times, Sou’wester and many other journals. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, Medgar Evers College and the Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York. He received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Randi Hoffman, and their daughter, Shay.

white paper | 6" x 9" | 96 pgs. | ISBN: 978-1977850898 | $12.95 | release date: January, 2018

Sensitive Skin Books