Failure Atlas
(Greying Ghost, 2023)

“The poems in Failure Atlas are for those stuck under the bootheel of waning hope. Close one eye and you see an exit; close the other and you see a replay of the beginning. Yet somewhere in the middle of this vicious circle is a strange sense of beauty that somehow yanks your lips into a smile. Fagan is a true master with a voice and a vision that is liable to kick your perception of what a poem can be squarely in the stomach.”

—Carl Annarummo

Pretty Soon
(Pilot Press, 2023)

“Aaron Fagan’s colloquial voice—by turns mordant, enlightening, despairing, but always witty—not only describes a deeply compelling, interior emotional atmosphere, but a world we’ve made together, and how best to live in it. An astonishing collection.”

—Hilton Als

“‘Worthless amazement of things.’ Sentences like that will keep me in these pages.”

—Richard Prince

“‘I hid the details to reveal the feel of details.’ Excellent.”

—Jim Jarmusch

“Tight, heady, and beautiful: Aaron Fagan’s sonnets obey an invisible procedure that lends his lines a sculptural, haunted equilibrium. Reading these finely wrought poems, I felt like I was being massaged inside a hall of mirrors, and the masseurs, many-handed, were legendary poets of the past. Pretty Soon is wisdom literature, comfort food, night school, Socratic candy, and high-wire elegance.”

—Wayne Koestenbaum

“What most distinguishes Aaron Fagan's poetry is its range and capacity for surprise, as well as its velocity. From careening, free-form meditations, to homage, to Algren-esque realism, sometimes a blending of all of the above, it makes for invigorating reading. A highly individual American voice.”

—August Kleinzahler

“The sonnets in Pretty Soon dance in beauty like the light: compression, abstraction, impossible ideas lucidly expressed, political and personal truths lucidly slipped out as if in somebody else’s dream, woven through the even-seeming but subliminally jagged surface of the words. Reflections reflect metamorphic awareness, words slide into different words, phrases arouse recollections of other voices. All gathered in, turned to ethical account. Measured and forceful, ‘casual but final,’ these poems stand by their words, and in them.”

—Ian Patterson

“Fagan’s poems are unlike any I've ever read, with a tone entirely of their own, full of surprises and stimulating ideas.”

—Leon Wieseltier

“The poems in Pretty Soon really don’t sound like anything else I’ve read. Ghosts of Stevens, Bronk, maybe Ashbery, though I hesitate to list Ashbery because he’s not a poet I respond to with any depth, and I do respond to these poems. Just something about the way the ideas slide into and out of each other with no transitions. Ashbery is eliding the transitions (evading them, I’d say, making a game of it). Fagan’s poems are dealing with an existential difficulty: there are no transitions, and the little abysses between the lines are the same ones we must navigate in life. ‘Stained Glass’ is maybe the best example of this, but I am also haunted by ‘The Last Night of the World.’ Many others too. Mostly it’s just the tone that has got under my skin, the shock of something new.”

—Christian Wiman

A Better Place Is Hard to Find
(The Song Cave, 2020)

“Aaron Fagan’s A Better Place Is Hard to Find contains some of the finest poems I’ve read in years. At once fluid, blistering, and visionary, Fagan’s poems are marvels that I admire for their beauty, their craft, and their fearlessness in the search for truth. What a poet!”

“Witty, inventive, surprising, uplifting, but also drawn to probe the darker recesses of the human psyche, the poems collected here reveal Aaron Fagan at his most compelling. This volume will surely enhance his status as one of the brightest stars in the American poetic firmament.”

—Mark Ford

“Aaron Fagan’s marvelous A Better Place Is Hard to Find revels in ideas without being at all intellectualized.  Rather, he takes pleasure in the sheer feel of them as they unfold in long, sinuous sentences, a pleasure the reader shares, even though the poems are not so much addressed to a reader as overheard by one.  His poetry feels like it flows on endlessly, ‘Full of what we did or didn’t do, said / Or didn’t say, but it comes and goes, / (Like all things clear) like nothing clear.’”

—John Koethe

A Better Place Is Hard to Find is absolutely luminous. I don’t know how Aaron Fagan manages to create a tone of gentle serenity and heartbreak at the same time—or is it that he creates an illusion of serenity and then punctures it unexpectedly with heartbreak? Is it the heartbreak or the gentleness that gets me? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing. The world at this moment, and even its poetry, seems too hard and brittle all over, but Fagan does not.”

—Ange Mlinko

“I read A Better Place Is Hard to Find with delight and admiration. I love Fagan’s blunt delicacy and rich plain speech.”

—Lucy Sante

“I've been savoring the elegance of A Better Place Is Hard to Find. The poems are rightly mysterious (not mystifying), dignified, suggestive, sinister where they ought to be.”

—Rosanna Warren

“It redeems things to know Aaron Fagan is out there, ‘filled with feedback,’ writing poems so grandly (cosmologically) but also humbly aware. I like very much the oscillation between the inscrutable transparencies of the shorter-line poems and the inconclusive stampedes of abundance in the longer-line ones. A Better Place Is Hard to Find made me think of Marianne Moore's observation that it's a privilege to see so much confusion. One result of the oscillation is a kind of grace, even if disabused.”

—Douglas Crase

“Aaron Fagan has a fascinatingly mercurial way with the poetic statement, partly syntax but largely diction. I have been reading with pleasure A Better Place Is Hard to Find and agreeing wholeheartedly first with the one, then with the other sense of his title’s claim. The figures and meanings are ever in motion—or, if we are on a path, each phrase, each stepping stone stays firm until the foot leaves it, when it dissolves without a trace—leaving the reader in turn no choice but to proceed with him on the . . . inspiriting search. Ashbery is capable of sustaining this kind of magic, as is Stevens, though less obsessively, but it is a rare gift, in my experience.”

—Stephen Yenser

A Better Place is Hard to Find dwells in the liminal zone between possibility and fate, between memory and fantasy, showing how the process of trying to figure out what went wrong in a life, going back over our tracks in the mud, muddying them more, writing and overwriting, is actually the process of creating a new terrain for new life, an endlessly updated library of dreams and experience.”

—Kylan Rice, Annulet: A Journal of Poetics

“In his new book, A Better Place Is Hard to Find, Aaron Fagan explores the chasm between what exists, and what we bring into existence. The collection glows red with a sort of divine anxiety, a propulsive panicked search for some world more stable than the one we have made for ourselves. A better place.”

—Ethan Cohen, Gasher Journal

Echo Train
(Salt Publishing, 2010)

“Somewhere along the continuum of black holes and dividing cells, televised moonlight and Sanskrit tattoos, Fagan makes a characteristic music—bluntly oblique, elegantly perforated—out of the sufferings and strange comedy of the everyday grotesque and everyday irrational, ‘inventing / My reason to stay out of thin air.’ This Echo Train reverberates with remnants of everything from souvenir T-shirts to ancient hymns while emerging into the jagged sound of its own present moment.”

—Geoffrey O’Brien

“Aaron Fagan’s poems are perhaps best at what poetry itself is best at: taking the details of everyday life and finding something of philosophical significance. The way he does this—with some brutally beautiful sentences, incredible control of rhythm, and all those perfect final lines—is quirky enough that his writing is original and grounded enough that it always feels true.”

—Matthew Welton

“Like his debut collection, Garage, Aaron Fagan’s Echo Train is a short book of short poems. Its full page of epigraphs—from Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Hayden Carruth—makes it look like a child facing an adult on a see-saw. And yet, like a string-theorist positing extra dimensions, Fagan somehow evens the equation. With lines of roughly equal length, widespread enjambment rarely employed for obvious semantic effects, and a fondness for unexpected turns of phrase and grammar, the typical Fagan poem has a powerful forward flow, trailing whirlpools of complexity.”

—Paul Franz, Foreword Reviews

(Salt Publishing, 2007)

“Fagan’s first book is vivid and aesthetically disturbing work. His promise is considerable because his originality should prove to be decisive.”

—Harold Bloom 

“Way back in the book-writing era, Plato wrote about the ‘old quarrel between philosophy and poetry.’ If the quarrel seemed old to Plato while writing The Republic, to make it seem new in 2007 requires some serious ingenuity. In his inventive first book, Garage, Aaron Fagan seems to be the poet for the job. Like Plato, Fagan is interested in definitions: what kind of philosophizing in a poem is an unearned indulgence, while another sort of philosophizing might qualify as art . . . . As much as Plato attacked poetry, he recognized something vital about a rhetorical stance made lyric; that vitality is sharply present in the questions and turns of thought in Garage. Fagan both considers the ‘laws’ of poetry and breaks them, a mix that has made for an excellent first book.”

—Idra Novey, The Believer

“The intelligent, impeccably crafted poems in Garage, Aaron Fagan’s debut collection, function as philosophical micro-treatises. From the working class angst of ‘Doing My Part for the Tool and Die Industry’ to the post-Romantic musings of ‘Resistentialism,’ Aaron Fagan’s introspections cast light on a world in which the poem’s speakers find themselves trying to make sense of the absurd, and the sense that’s made is the poems themselves, which come to us as bits of gold sieved from the daily dross of human existence.”

—Christopher Kennedy

“Evident [in Garage] is the self-mocking, saturnine temper of such precursors as Alan Dugan (from whom Fagan takes an appropriate epigraph) or even Howard Nemerov. Yet even these anti-lyrics and bedroom palinodes strive towards apt purposes: this poet so given to humble skepticism he still tries to believe that ‘each thing we make/ Results from the wild permutations of love.’”

Publishers Weekly