In his twentieth book, most of which was first composed on the backs of medical forms while on break as a third-shift medical technician, Sean Thomas Dougherty brings us a memoir-like prose sequence reflecting on disability, chronic illness, addiction, survival, love, and parenthood.
In Death Prefers the Minor Keys, Dougherty offers the reader collaged prose poems, stories and essays full of dreams, metaphors, aphorisms, parables and narratives of his work as a caregiver. Moving portraits of Dougherty's residents, a series of letters to Death, invocations of Jewish ancestry through the photography of Roman Vishniac, imaginary treatments for brain injuries, and half translated short stories of lives both real and imagined populate this collection. Through these, Dougherty engages issues of labor, the ontology of disability, and the mysticism of life.
Death Prefers the Minor Keys is most of all a kind of love letter to Dougherty's wife, and her courage and complicity in the face of long-term illness and addiction. Ultimately, we see how the antidote to despair can reside in daily acts of caring for other human beings.
Sean Thomas Dougherty's other books include The Second O of Sorrow (Boa Editions, 2018), All You Ask for is Longing: Poems 1994-2014 (Boa Editions), Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press) and Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line (2010 BOA Editions) which was a finalist for Binghamton University Milton Kessler's literary prize for the best book by a poet over 40, and his awards include a Fulbright Lectureship to the Balkans, two PA Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry and an appearance in Best American Poetry 2014. Known for his dynamic readings, he has performed at hundreds of venues, universities and festivals including the Detroit Art Festival, the Dodge Poetry Festival, the Old Dominion Literary Festival and across Albania and Macedonia where he appeared on national television, sponsored by the US State Department. Sean is a writing mentor with the MFA program in creative writing at Western Connecticut State University. He lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, works as a Med Tech, tours, hustles, and writes poems about stuff that happens in his city between the lake and the highway, and elsewhere, in our wrecked and gloriously ruined and beautiful American lives.