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Book Cover for: Vitals and Other Signs of Life, David A. Goodrum

Vitals and Other Signs of Life

David A. Goodrum

David A. Goodrum's debut book of poetry, Vitals and Other Signs of Life, reflects a deep love of family with all their ordeals and imperfections, a steely-eyed view of mortality, and a sense of astonishment and relationship to nature.


In the book's first section, aptly titled "Vitals" the poet portrays the emotional impact of life's milestones through narrative poems on childhood, illness, tragedy, parenting, divorce, and loss. Goodrum then bluntly faces aging and impermanence in the next section of the book, "Fully Aware of the Falling Fistfuls of Dirt Still to Follow," before leading the reader into the final section of the book "Somewhere between the Sleep of Roiling Water and the Sleep of Ice," with his lyrical poems anchored in nature, offering us an intimate view of our external world while connecting us to our inner spirit.


Early Praise:

"In these vibrant poems of identity, nostalgia, generational change, family, and American culture, Goodrum exhibits a true talent for imbuing mundane details with authenticity, layered meanings, and linguistic beauty. Filled with rich and accessible language, these poems are intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging, written by someone with clear eyes and an open, curious heart."

-John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another


"...each element adds to each other to create an elegant poetic whole."

-Marc Janssen, founder of the Salem Poetry Project


"Vitals and Other Signs of Life takes a brave look at one man's red thorns, transforming the truth of them into beautifully wrought poems."

-Emily Ransdell, author of One Finch Singing


"Reading the poems in these pages, I feel nourished by the harvest his persistent hand-tilling has produced."

-Eleanor Berry, author of Works of Wildfire

Book Details

  • Publisher: Poetry Box
  • Publish Date: Jun 14th, 2024
  • Pages: 108
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00in - 6.00in - 0.29in - 0.34lb
  • EAN: 9781956285635
  • Categories: American - GeneralSubjects & Themes - General

About the Author

Goodrum, David A.: - David A. Goodrum, writer/photographer, was born, raised, and educated in Indiana and currently lives in Oregon in the Willamette Valley. As an undergrad he studied at Indiana University and graduated with a creative writing thesis of poems. He holds degrees in English and German and a doctorate in instructional systems technology. David has been a high school teacher, a developer of instructional software, a fine arts photographer exhibiting at juried art fairs, and a director of educational technology across two different universities.Vitals and Other Signs of Life (The Poetry Box, 2024) is his first book-length collection of poetry. His poems have been published in Tar River Poetry, The Inflectionist Review, Passengers Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Fireweed: Poetry of Oregon, Willawaw Journal, Spillway, Eclectica Magazine, Scapegoat Journal, Triggerfish Critical Review, among others. A chapbook entitled \ˈspärs(ˌ)pōˈetə̇kə\ (Sparse Poetica) was published in late 2023 on the Audience Askew imprint. David's photography has graced the covers of several art and literature magazines, most recently Cirque Journal, Willows Wept Review, Blue Mesa Review, Red Rock Review, The Moving Force Journal, Snapdragon Journal, Vita Poetica, and appeared in many others. In fall 2023 he joined the Executive Board of the Oregon Poetry Association. He's been a member of the Board of Directors for The Arts Center in Corvallis since fall 2022. See additional work, both poems and photos, at www.davidgoodrum.com. Instagram: @goodrum. X (Twitter): @goodrum.His procreative acts include a daughter and two sons. Even before his early thirties, he was certain he would never write poetry again. He continues, it seems, to be wrong. About most things.

Praise for this book

In these vibrant poems of identity, nostalgia, generational change, family, and American culture, Goodrum exhibits a true talent for imbuing mundane details with authenticity, layered meanings, and linguistic beauty. But Vitals and Other Signs of Life is so much more than that; it's also brimming with deep longing, pain, and the kinds of contrasts that speak to larger human truths. Filled with rich and accessible language, these poems are intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging, written by someone with clear eyes and an open, curious heart.

-John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another


In the middle of Indiana I slept / among the long dead and the always dying, writes David Goodrum in this forthright debut collection. In poems both pensive and rich with metaphor, Goodrum grapples with an austere, midwestern childhood, memories of close calls and a father quick to punish. We witness the ebb and flow of life's 'vitals'-dementia and death, marriage, divorce, the terrifying illness of a child. Yet Vitals is ultimately hopeful. The poet eventually leaves Indiana, and as an avid gardener, learns to nurture what he has planted in his new home: Don't transplant bad habits from one bed to another, he realizes. Embrace the red thorns. Vitals and Other Signs of Life takes a brave look at one man's red thorns, transforming the truth of them into beautifully wrought poems.

-Emily Ransdell, author of One Finch Singing


Vitals and Other Signs of Life plunges us into the dark recesses of memory as he recounts a boy's experience of injury and trauma, repression, illness, loss, and death. He continues in the bald language of witness with a close look at his own frailty, and the dwindling that is aging. But in the third section, he waits not for the dream of bone / but of marrow-where we wrap ourselves in dark woolen moods...gape at the bright bits of light glinting. His embrace of the natural world pulls into his lines the robins who thin the clew (of worms), windows juddered by the wind, and a tree turned ninety / with dark spalted threads running through. Here, his voice expands; his words begin to sing.

-Rachel Barton, author of This is the Lightness and Happiness Comes


A third of the way through this book, David Goodrum gives us an account of his methods. In "Letter of Introduction," he writes, I offer double vision: shoplifted / recollections declared as my own / while mine, haphazardly / evaporated, are raked for crystal residues. The tone is characteristically self-deprecating, but the analysis pinpoints a key strength of the poetry that precedes and follows. The astonishing first poem, "My Brother Jumped from the Fire," reconstructs the brother's mental experience amid choking smoke: my brother knew he had to / pick up the cleaning.... // knew he had to drive his daughter / to flute practice.... After keeping us within the brother's consciousness through his plunging three stories, the poem pulls us abruptly into the poet's perspective-seeing, but not recognizing, his hospitalized brother on the national news.

Whether through catastrophe or slow erosion, the life rendered in this poetry accumulates losses. But Goodrum's sharp attentiveness to the natural world and his double vision sustain him. In "Turning Over," a poem that articulates his methods through an extended metaphor of cultivating a garden, the speaker notes drily, Though well past bloom / I'm still working it. Reading the poems in these pages, I feel nourished by the harvest his persistent hand-tilling has produced.

-Eleanor Berry, author of Works of Wildfire