A queer love story in five acts, Dancehall follows the arc of a relationship from its earliest days to its final, somber conclusion.
In these 60 poems, you will join the speaker as they navigate the highs and the lows, the tranquility and the turbulence, the euphoria and the despair that comes with giving yourself fully to another.
Through language, imagery, and form at once universal and intimate, you are invited to take part in this love story — not as some distant observer, but as a central figure: The “you” to whom the speaker writes these poems.
Experienced poetry readers and poetry novices alike will enjoy the clean, simple style embodied in the majority of the poems.
Whether straight or queer, young or old, single or happily partnered, this book is for anyone who has ever loved or longed for another.
A vivid portrayal of love, sex, and desire using natural imagery.
Our Verdict: Get It.
Libraries seeking LGBTQ+ literature in general and poetry in particular will find Dancehall a compelling read both for its prowess in evocative emotional and atmospheric descriptions and for its celebration of love.
—Midwest Book Review
Tim Stobierski’s debut volume, Dancehall, captures the thrall of first real love in Sapphic poems that tumble with excitement and tumult. I rooted for the lovers, feeling as swept away as the speaker is: “Harvest me by the handful;/tear me out of the black earth.” Stobierski’s stunning imagery will have you enthralled again with the love poem and clinging with suspense while riding the affair’s arc.
—Pegi Deitz Shea, two-time winner of the Connecticut Book Award and author of The Weight of Kindling.
Erotic, sublime, funny, and sharp, Tim Stobierski writes poems the way tango-dancers cross the floor: His confidence, mastery of language, sexual energy, and essential vitality make it impossible to turn away. You’ll read, and you'll weep, or sigh, or laugh, or be swept off your feet by longing—grateful to be alive, but reminded of love’s price and desire’s debt. You’ll read Stobierski’s poems out loud and recite them at weddings, and you’ll remember them as you fall asleep.
—Gina Barreca, author of They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted.
Tim Stobierski’s collection, Dancehall, is in itself an ode to love, with all its passion and contradictions, gifting readers a wisdom we could only learn through a language like his, a skillful juxtaposition of love and loss, tenderness and lust.
Stobierski is a master of craft, a speaker who knows how to feel, who knows that love is a journey and a puzzle. His titles intrigue, his last lines transport the reader way beyond the initial moment. Each short poem is a tender vignette that smacks of the truth of human relationships, each one a moment to be felt, tasted, savored, cold and warmth juxtaposed. In them, we feel the passion and contradictions, something between the tender and the tumultuous—something like love.
Tim Stobierski’s poems speak to everyone. Dancehall is a welcome reminder of poetry’s often overlooked power to awaken us to the beauty, complexity, and fragility of love, life, and the small gifts we often ignore.
—Pat Mottola, author of After Hours
In these tender poems, Tim Stobierski traces the familiar yet always-wrenching arc of early love gained, then lost. And while the darlings here are queer and kissing in parking lots, this tale brings us right back to Dante’s Vita Nuova and the love lyric’s difficult task: to explore the particularities of a singular vanished beloved in language that allows its readers, its voyeurs, to feel intimately present.
—Penelope Pelizzon, author of Whose Flesh Is Flame, Whose Bone Is Time
This book works like the metal teeth of a zipper, alternating exigent heartbreak with love throes. You can read it in one sitting, persisting even as its teeth catch on and scrape your skin, because it is such a pleasure "to remember what it is like / to be so lonely."
—Darcie Dennigan, author of Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse and Madame X
Stobierski’s Dancehall traces romantic love from its early, ingenuous encounters, when one lover can entreat the other to “speak me into being“ and the whole natural world, from the keenest flower to the ocean itself, grows more vital and fine. But Stobierski’s book, like love itself, also embraces darkness. It goes on to explore that same love lost, as the poet learns to “give praise to the shadows,” in a renewed and more reflective effort to entwine the self and the other. These poems are acutely attuned to love’s shadow and love’s light.
—David Groff, author of Live in Suspense
In Dancehall, a love story in five acts, Stobierski selects, dissects, and presents a series of moments—ranging from the mundane to the passionate to the anguished—that, when strung together, tell the complicated story of loving someone fully. While each poem is strong on its own, the work is tied together by recurring themes, comparisons, and language that take the reader on a rollercoaster of love and loss. Both playful and hard-hitting, it’s unputdownable.
—Catherine Cote, founder of Project Empathy
Tim Stobierski’s Dancehall tells the tale of a queer love story enacted nimbly as image/word dances and flourishes on the page. The speaker in these poems invites the reader to consider the myriad ways narratives are crafted in poetic form. One is struck by the brevity Stobierski establishes with poems such as the “Apolloniad,” which calls upon Greek mythology, and one poem “Falling in love with you” that appears pirouette-like in all five “acts” of the collection. There is a lot to admire in Stobierski’s collection of poems, and it’s a gem I’ll enjoy reading again and again.
—Sean Frederick Forbes, author of Providencia
Media & Coverage
Midwest Book Review: Powerfully atmospheric accounts of passion and place
Nutmeg Chatter: Episode 304: The Poetry of Tim Stobierski
Valley Independent Sentinel: Dancehall, Poetry Book By Ansonia Resident, Now Available To Purchase
Mel's Bookshelves: Dancehall Book Review
Grey Sparrow Journal: Love, Memory, and Agency: A Review of Tim Stobierski’s Dancehall
Book Lover's Boudoir: A Review of Dancehall by Tim Stobierski
Review Tales, Jeynran Main: An Interview With Tim Stobierski
Author Anthony Avina: Dancehall, A Review
Pages for Sanity: Dancehall: Lyrical, vibrant, melodic
Savvy Verse and Wit: Dancehall: An Unforgettable Love Story
True Book Addict: Love is a hard thing: A Review of Tim Stobierski's Dancehall