Dan O’Brien has found what Frost once called “the sound of sense,” has caught the language of people, stripped that language to its bare bones, rattled those bones in ways that make a wrenching but beautiful music. Moving through his American childhood into adulthood, through a wide world shattered by broken people, he finds redemption everywhere, and it’s a gift to his readers. O’Brien supplies the satisfactions of a rare imagination at work, a poet who has taken risks, exposing his deep anxieties, finding himself again and again.

— Jay Parini


Dan O’Brien’s direct and sometimes stark but never simplistic poems explore the difficult complexities of boyhood, and growing up, and growing older. The painful loveliness of O’Brien’s language reveals the confusions and aspirations of the self, and the self among others, and the perilous world beyond the self. 

— Lawrence Raab


Dan O’Brien is one of our keenest observers of domestic life. From the grass growing greener next door, to the wildlife that haunts vacation spots, even down to the knot in a boy’s tie, this book is generously affectionate yet sharply alert to both the details and dramas in family life. Not for nothing can the word “scar” be found in the title Scarsdale, but as this fine poet shows, we can bear the past bravely and come away from it, as we do from his book, deeply enriched.

— Don Share


Dan O’Brien’s poems are powerful and stripped down, but they expand along the mind long after they’ve been read. As in War Reporter, O’Brien captures the reflective gentleness that exists amid the damage of experience, and survives it.

— Patrick McGuinness



Dan O’Brien, author of War Reporter (CB editions in the UK, Hanging Loose Press in the US, 2013; winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for a first collection of poetry), is a playwright and poet living in Los Angeles. He was born in Scarsdale, New York, in 1973. His play The Body of an American won the Horton Foote Prize and the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, and had its European premiere in London in 2014.