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Before After
Before After

Before After



90 Pages, 5.5 x 7.5

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $18.00 (US $18.00) (CA $24.00)

Publication Date: March 2023

ISBN 9781947817524

Rights: US & CA

Saturnalia Books (Mar 2023)


eBook Editions Available

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Price: $18.00


From action figures to alcoholism, mental illness to mortality, devotion to divorce, Before After interrogates yet celebrates the paradoxes of living in a world both beautiful and brutal—a world, according to these poems, in which Jesus texts random emojis from the cross, people suddenly sprout wings, human hearts are replaced by Platonic machines, and caskets are shrunk down to serve as symbolic trinkets. Along this journey through the real and surreal, the works of great poets—Hopkins, Plath, Lowell, and more—are lovingly subverted in the search for novel meanings that match this world. Written by a self-taught and award-winning poet, Before After challenges, with wit and compassion, our distinctions between thinking and feeling, sacred and profane, wellness and madness, before and after.


“Seldom do I come across a poet who keeps making me want to turn the page for another poem, but Owen McLeod is that poet, and the book which kept me transfixed is his newest collection, Before After. From dreams about dinner parties with Robert Hass to Jesus texting random emojis, from poets as action figures to keychain caskets, McLeod’s engaging and conversational voice pulled me in with itshumor, perspective, and slant on life even while dealing with subjects such as depression and addiction. Compassion, longing, and loss weave themselves through this stunning collection. I can’t get enough of this poet and his poems; how thankful I am Owen McLeod is in the world and writing.” —Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides

“From cinderblocks and Astroturf, from the voice of a triceratops and a heart filled up with rain, Owen McLeod has made one thrilling ride of a book—its concerns as sublime as life’s 'palaces of light,' and as earthbound as an ’82 Camaro. Read Before After for its daring, and poignancy, and glee. Listen as this gifted poet’s 'choir of a thousand garage doors sings.'” —Patrick Phillips, National Book Award Finalist and author of Elegy for a Broken Machine

“Here is a book to remind us what poetry is and why we need it.” —Maurice Manning, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Railsplitter

“…a fiercely beautiful book of poems that do not shriek or cry so much as mock 'the smallness, the stinginess of death.' Incautious and revelatory, the poems of Before After are a celebration of losses or triumphs that result from our attention to lived experience, and the tenses inside which our lives are reinvented again and again.” —Chelsea Dingman, National Poetry Series Winner and author of Through a Small Ghost

“…a collection of poems about the things that matter most—our heartbreaks, our dreams, our private joys and deepest shames. McLeod is a master at juxtaposing narrative scenes and infusing the rhythms of speech with opposing emotions. You’ll laugh out loud at his twisted wit only to fall silent at his haunting images.” —Anders Carlson-Wee, author of The Low Passions

“In Before After…McLeod arrives at his own hard-earned, half-glimpsed 'intimations of immortality' by way of the Shammy Shine and mustard-stained napkins, the ephemera of drive-through America. Eventually, as he notes in the book’s final poem, 'the birdsongs began to make sense.' I’m grateful to Owen McLeod for his exquisite gift of sense-making.” —Mike White, author of How to Make a Bird with Two Hands

Author Biography

Owen McLeod’s debut collection, Dream Kitchen, won the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. His poems appear in Copper Nickel, Massachusetts Review, Missouri Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and his work has been supported by a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is a professor of philosophy at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.