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Is That What That Is

Is That What That Is by Paul Hostovsky

In his ninth full-length collection, Paul Hostovsky serves up his usual unusual fare of graceful, musical, accessible language sauced with humor and tenderness in poems about love and sex, exes and whys, lost socks, lost erections, lost youth, deaf people and dentists and kazoos—with lots of ars poeticas sprinkled throughout and a philosophical lagomorph hopping into more than a couple of poems. These poems consistently extract from the everyday and ordinary experiences of our lives a kind of Holy Instant of joy, of insight, of wonder, and a sort of redemptive humor that leaves us somehow sadder and wiser AND happier the morrow morn. George Bilgere says of this new collection: "Such a pleasure. These poems knocked my socks off. Those other reliable reporters from the battlefield of being middle-aged in America—the Hoaglands and Hallidays, the Collinses and Padgetts—should step aside and make way for Hostovsky!"

Read three poems from Is That What That Is.
ISBN: 9781942371328

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The Bad Guys (Winner of the 2015 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize)

Paul Hostovsky's Selected Poems

Who are the bad guys, anyway? Which one is the good fight, anyway? In Paul Hostovsky’s eighth book of poetry, The Bad Guys, there are poems about suicide bombers and high school bullies, capricious exes and ecstatic bums, fastidious drug-dealers and contemplative alcoholics, evil stenches and spiritual moms; poems about the Republicans, the mega-hospitals, the brusque and bearded anesthesiologists, and the lady who gave out pencils on Halloween. Plus a host of other unlikely, often likable, always loveable, candidates. These poems are by turns funny and poignant, formal and free verse, a villanelle here, a pantoum there, and lots of loosey-goosey sonnets peppered throughout.

Read three poems from The Bad Guys

ISBN-10: 1938853776
Published by FutureCycle Press (April 29, 2015)
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Available on the Kindle.

Paul Hostovsky: Selected Poems

Paul Hostovsky's Selected Poems

Paul Hostovsky: Selected Poems brings together 120 poems from this prolific, masterful, Pushcart Prize-winning poet’s previous five collections of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008), Dear Truth (2009), A Little in Love a Lot (2011), Hurt Into Beauty (2012), and Naming Names (2014). Of Hostovsky’s work the Georgia Review has written: “High-energy Paul Hostovsky, who makes his living as an interpreter for the Deaf, has been making a lot of noise in the poetry publishing world of late, with five full-length collections and six poetry chapbooks in the past eight years. He is best known for his use of humor in service of serious subject matter, his skill with narrative, and his unpretentiously strong commitment to craft. Joe Weil has written that ‘Paul Hostovsky negotiates a territory not far removed from the casual speaking style of Frank O’Hara and the humor and simplicity of Paul Zimmer, but he is not a mere hybrid of these two fine poets. He represents what is best about clarity in poetry.’ And Jeffrey Harrison, speaking of Hostovsky’s work, has said more succinctly, ‘This book kicks ass.’”

ISBN-10: 1938853571
Published by FutureCycle Press
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Available on the Kindle.

naming names

A Little In Love a Lot, by Paul Hostovsky

"Naming Names is proof positive that Paul Hostovsky just keeps getting better. Here again the acute, bemused, loving attention to the idiosyncracies of our polysaturated world. Here the New Jersian candor. The delight in language—"that predacious lefty sidearm pitcher with / strabismus, and a penchant for wild pitches" . . .  "the sensation always a bit hairy— / as the word seeps down into your  vocabulary" . . .  "powering the buoyant / antique iridescent technology of the poem." Here again—in spades—the enlarged, Whitmanian heart." —Nick Norwood

"This book feels like a staring contest between the profound and the  promiscuous. It goes back and forth but overall the profound wins out, in part because it's performing some very clever jiu-jitsu. These poems spiritualize the bodily functions. They are devoted to the body in all its juices. Hostovsky's voice argues well for its humanity, with just enough cleverness, introspection, and self-awareness to balance out all the negative capability wanking in the loo."Frank Gallimore

"In poems funny and wise, playful and sad, carnal and spiritual, locker-room casual and master-class artful, Paul Hostovsky names friends, enemies, writers, lovers, gentleman plumbers, and many others. In the process, he names the paradoxes and complexities that define us all. These poems “smile at you through the pain,” and you smile back in painful recognition. This book—maybe Hostovsky’s best yet—not only names names, it kicks ass." —Eric Nelson

Read 3 poems from Naming Names.

Hurt Into Beauty

"In his fourth full-length collection of poetry, Paul Hostovsky offers up the kind of fare that his readers keep coming back for--the humor mixed with poignancy, the heartbreak lined with a kind of palliative existential mischief--in poems that explore the nature of pain, illness, beauty, childhood, Deaf people and sign language, the art of love and the art of poetry." —FutureCycle Press

Read 3 poems from Hurt Into Beauty.

ISBN-10: 0983998590
Published by FutureCycle Press, 62 pages
Available for purchase on

A Little in Love a Lot

A Little In Love a Lot, by Paul Hostovsky

"I can hardly tell you how much I love these poems. And then there is the fact that they are good. Really, really good. There is no one that I know of writing poetry right now that is doing it better than this. If you can't afford to buy this book, read it in the store." —Sally Fisher

"This book is full of Hostovsky poems, which is to say it's full of rare, wonderful, funny, incandescent events. No other contemporary American poet is so readily recognizable in just the first few lines of any of his poems, and very few are as entertaining." —John Lee Clark

"Paul Hostovsky always finds a way to make me happy. I hope in the next life I come back as him." —Scott Owens

Read 3 poems from A Little In Love A Lot.

ISBN: 978-1-59948-303-0
Published by Main Street Rag, 96 pages
Available for purchase from the publisher or the author. Email Paul for details.

Dear Truth

Cover of Dear Truth

"Paul Hostovsky has the storyteller’s gift for character and voice. He has the lyricist’s gift for extracting the essential moment, holding it up like a crystal, and making it sing. He brings us into a world where beauty and pain reside together. From the shards of illness, addiction, and fractured love affairs, he meticulously crafts poems that are significant and durable."
—Diane Lockward

"Although the title poem is a sort of Dear John letter to Truth, the book itself is, in fact, dedicated to truth on a larger scale: the expansive and various truth of the imagination. In these touching, finely crafted, and often funny poems, Hostovsky remains true to his lively and inquisitive vision of the world, to beauty, joy, pain, and grief, always displaying a love of language that is contagious and invigorating."
—Jeffrey Harrison

Read 3 poems from Dear Truth.

ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-209-5
Published by Main Street Rag, 95 pages
Available for purchase from the publisher or the author. Email Paul for details.

Bending the Notes

Cover of 'Bending the Notes'

"This book kicks ass. 'Bear with me I/ want to tell you/ something about/ happiness,' the first poem begins, and that urgency never lets up as Hostovsky tells us not only about happiness but also about sadness, pain, tenderness, making love, making sandwiches, making poems, making mistakes, and trying to 'make it/ right.' How many poems have you read in which an extended basketball metaphor appears side by side with Rilke's notion of beauty and terror; or in which a lesbian rabbi and recovering alcoholic priest hilariously discuss the relationship between profanity and prayer; or in which the phrase 'the shiny, poisonous leaves/ of Beauty' refers not to the common, three-leaved rash-inducing plant but to the pages of People magazine?They're all here, along with many other wonderful poems that are by turns funny and poignant--or both at once. Equally adept with fixed or not-so-fixed forms as with free-wheeling free verse, Hostovsky shows us, over and over, in language that is always alive, what it is like to be alive." Jeffrey Harrison

Read three poems from Bending the Notes.

ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-153-1
Published by Main Street Rag, 105 pages
Available for purchase from the publisher or the author. Email Paul for details.

Bird In The Hand

Cover of 'Bird In The Hand'"Paul Hostovsky’s poems send the reader in two directions: one road leads to the brain, the other to the heart. Intelligent and poignant, these poems reveal the poet’s narrative bent, lyric grace, and technical mastery, most notably, an uncanny knack for the double-duty line break. In poem after poem, Hostovsky moves with ease from the literal to the metaphorical. His fascination with deafness, hands, and signing compels us to think about how we listen or don’t listen, how we touch or fail to touch each other, and what language really means. Here’s a poet whose comfort zone is that squiggly spot where contradiction resides, where we find 'a certain / glamour of great sorrows, or beautiful / catastrophes.'”
—Diane Lockward

Read three poems from Bird In The Hand.

ISBN: 0-9785382-0-X
Published by Grayson Books, 27 pages
Available for purchase from the author. Email Paul for details.

That Light

Cover of 'That Light'"Paul Hostovsky negotiates a territory not far removed from the casual speaking style of Frank O'Hara, and the humor and simplicity of Paul Zimmer, but he is not a mere hybrid of these two fine poets. He represents what is best about clarity in poetry. He never overwrites, or tries to force his "lyrical" soul on a situation or perception, but lets the situation and perception offer up their own "poetic" moments. I found his writing to be both humorous and precise, yet free flowing--the triumph of a center fielder who has learned to make the hard catch look easy."
Joe Weil, Final Judge, Split Oak Press Chapbook Contest

Read three poems from That Light.

ISBN: 978-0-9823513-4-5
Published by Split Oak Press, 35 pages
Available for purchase from the author. Email Paul for details.

Dusk Outside The Braille Press

Cover of 'Dusk Outside The Braille Press'"Here are poems that take my imagination and heart in directions I do not expect, with language both accessible and rigorously crafted. With every visit among these poems, I step away from them moved with gratitude for how they enlarge my sense of the world I thought I knew." —Brad Davis

Read three poems from Dusk Outside The Braille Press.

ISBN: 3-978-890044-17-6
Published by Riverstone Press, 39 pages
Available for purchase from the author. Email Paul for details.

The Best Lunches

The Best Lunches, Paul Hostovsky“This year’s winner is The Best Lunches by Paul Hostovsky of Medfield Massachusetts. This collection is humorous and touching, with a powerful and authentic voice. The poems make acute observations of daily life and explore them in a way that humanizes us all. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”
The Frank Cat Press Chapbook Competition

Read three poems from The Best Lunches.

ISBN: 0-9789416-2-4
Published by Frank Cat Press, 28 pages
Available for purchase from the author. Email Paul for details.

Sonnets From South Mountain

Cover of 'Sonnets From South Mountain'"They are slyly sonnets, these delightfully pithy little narratives that have the relaxed quality of conversation, are always more formal than they appear, but without ever losing that improvisational effect. They shock with little explosions of insight, take unexpected turns that rivet the reader's attention. I read them straight through from cover to cover!"
Clifford Gordon

Read three poems from Sonnets From South Mountain.

Published by Stanley Poetry Press, 48 pages (with illustrations)
Available for purchase from the author. Email Paul for details.