Bookcover: Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

vol. 27: Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry

Steve Bellin-Oka — author. 
  • Winner of the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry
Subject: Poetry

April, 2020






Paperback, E-Book


About Bellin-Oka's Instructions for Seeing a Ghost

Listen to an interview with author Steve Bellin-Oka on Big Blend Radio, discussing Instructions for Seeing a Ghost and his 2019 National Parks poetry residency.

This poetry collection is the record of an American’s return home after a decade abroad, an exile imposed solely because he loved another man. In a virtuoso display of lyric and formal inventiveness, Bellin-Oka’s poems meditate on the myriad losses engendered by diaspora: of home, family and sexual identity, and spiritual certainty.

“Steve Bellin-Oka’s poems hold in balance an intensified language and a passionate voice that bring together the struggles of the inner life with stark realities. This is a book of arresting authenticity.” —Peter Balakian, Pulitzer-Prize winner and judge

From “Self-Portrait as the Chosen One”

Long before I was what I am now, short
of breath, bald, just returned with arthritic knees
from exile in another country’s muck and red
volcanic soil, too near-sighted to discern
the High Plains tumbleweed from the burning
bush of myth, scorched now and silent,
long before this, I was the first son my mother bore
that lived.

About the Author

STEVE BELLIN-OKA is the author of a chapbook, Dead Letter Office at North Atlantic Station and is the recipient of a Tulsa Artists Fellowship in poetry. He has taught at the University of Mississippi and Eastern New Mexico University. He lives in Tulsa with his husband.

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