Driving Together (Meadowlark Books, May 2018)
Driving Together is Sheldon's first full-length poetry collection, centering on his upbringing in Kansas, his relationship with (and marriage to) his artist love, and the death of his identical twin brother, connected through the act of driving--moving forward literally and metaphorically, against both odds and physical distance. Incorporating poems and impetus from his chapbooks First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016) and Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017), this collection is a study in the connections that drive us.
"Intimate and lovely, the poems of Tyler Robert Sheldon allow us to appreciate the small, overlooked wonders of our familiar worlds. In Sheldon’s poems, there’s great compassion for people, for landscapes, for family members, and for an unromanticized past. In this poet’s
work, it’s the little things that count—moments of conversation, kitchen windows, the flights of native birds, the “sea ghosts” of Kansas. [Sheldon] writes frequently of an overlooked Midwestern state—Kansas—and of a storied Southern one—Louisiana—with an exacting eye for detail and a sense of earned wonder. In Driving Together, we encounter a poetic voice that will take us into the heart of each destination, and it's a joy to hear this voice unwind in these fine and succinct poems."
Author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman
"Tyler Sheldon performs a young poet’s affection for formative experience recollected in early manhood, seasoned with a mischievous whimsy."
Author of The Loose Change of Wonder
"Not many poets can bridge the wild terrain between lemons, ghosts of an inland sea, semiotics, a hurricane, and a coyote howling in the Flint Hills of Kansas, but Tyler Sheldon, in his first full-length collection of poetry, speaks directly and distinctly to the everyday realities and deep-night mysteries of life. Driving Together invites the reader to climb on for a ride across vistas of land and language, picking up speed by reading the omens along the way, and slowing down just in time to arrive at new understandings of home and adventure. His writing is clear-eyed and precise while embracing a wide vista of time and place. As he writes in "Elegy," "This poem believes / in extinction, knows / blades and grass keep / secrets just like us." Come drive together with Sheldon to find the more expansive view of our lives made visible in the quiet and original heart of these poems."
Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2009-2013
Author of Everyday Magic: Field Notes on the Mundane and Miraculous
"Tyler Robert Sheldon’s Driving Together excavates a family history and maps its place in Kansas with a storyteller’s mind and a poet’s precision. These poem’s honor Sheldon’s identical twin brother who died after a “small handful of hours,” and give a language for the spaces we make for the lives that were too short: “I see you behind my eyelids, and touch / you as I pluck a leaf from concrete.” Sheldon writes to illuminate how loss defines a place—“Our best scenery / is not on the ground”—and in doing so, preserves what is fleeting."
Author of Set to Music a Wildfire
"Driving Together by Tyler Robert Sheldon is a dynamic book of verse that celebrates life through love: fraternal love, romantic love, love for mindfulness, love for nature, love for writing. In its lines, the poet confesses his greatest fears, but they are released along with the breath the reader exhales when each syllable is pronounced; likewise, it is there where the poetic voice and the reader intersect in a journey of words that can be read peacefully time after time: “…The record will spin like the passing world…We’ll listen again—as many times as we need." In these pages, the poet holds an inner dialogue with himself, guiding the reader through the poetic voice’s rite of passage. With each verse, Sheldon's voice matures, reaching a catharsis in the end. The present moment is full of creative energy through which the poet continues his life journey, "his ears alert, his eyes full of wind and moon." This is a book I will read again and again."
Westchester Community College, New York
More Praise for Driving Together
"[Driving Together] strangifies our experience of time and place. This is deep mapping . . . where this book really hums is in the deep mapping of biography and geography."
Author of goatfish cowtooth