New Releases →

Please click on a book cover to learn more.

Shopping Cart
In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
If You So Desire  
  Joseph Gastiger

ISBN 978-0-9911465-8-1     $18  /  $21 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

72 pp      
PUB DATE: September 2014       Poetry



I imagine these pieces as talks to accompany a series of films—surrealist fables, brief documentaries, home movies, lost cartoons: “pulsations, agonies, indecisions, repetitions” chimes Maya Deren. “I am not greedy,” she once explained. “I do not seek to possess the major portion of your days. I am content if, on those rare occasions whose truth can be stated only by poetry, you will, perhaps, recall an image, even if only the aura of my films.”

That is my wish as well.

—Joseph Gastiger

About the Author

Joseph Gastiger

Joseph Gastiger grew up in Westbury, a working class town on Long Island. He was woeful at sports, prone to secret crushes on girls he never approached, and fell in quicksand twice before he was eight. He performed with a jug band at his high school’s Battle of the Bands, not once but twice, and would do it again if he could. Gastiger started college at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, became active in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and took summer jobs in candy factories, washing dishes, raking asphalt, and running around with kids at a day camp at John Jay Park. Eventually he transferred to Iowa, where he studied with two very kind teachers, Michael Burkard and Marvin Bell. He attended graduate school in Fort Collins, where with John Bradley, Yusef Komunyakaa, Billy, Fred, and Michael, he got a fleeting sense of how lucky he was. From there, he headed east to DeKalb to teach writing courses and, for twelve years, coordinated Northern Illinois University’s Honors Program. Here is where he met his wife, Jean, when she walked into a bookshop one sweltering August day looking, of course, for someone else. They have one son and a lovely old house mostly covered in ivy. Since 2001, Joe has served as a pastor at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb, Illinois. He is the author of Loose Talk, a first collection of prose poems published by Lost Horse Press in 2012.


He was hurrying home through that thin strip of woods by the parkway that warm spring night when somebody cried Run, or else maybe he did since he needed to, all at once—needed to tear through the bushes, the vines, and leap over that chain link fence, faster than he’d ever flown, as if crystals were breaking in his own blood—or he’d explode if too much of that energy got caught inside. So he found himself running headlong toward whatever and up over old junked cars, trying to outrun this animal ecstasy if only he could. Meanwhile ineluctable changes came over everything he could see—whirr of a rabbit, for one, as he bolted, parting the tall wet grass; shimmer of surrender in someone’s eyes alone under the bridge. There was blood in his hair and he’d lost both his shoes when he came to the ballfield behind his old school where he had never seen so many stars.