Ohio University Press, 2004
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry
Winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize
"A work of some poise and finish, by turns delicate and robust. . . . does not feel like a debut."
—D.H. Tracy, Poetry
"There is more insight into domestic grief in these and other poems in The Optimist than in a dozen louder, more overtly confessional books. And that sense of insight born from experience is what makes Mehigan’s work so moving and impressive. Few American poets, old or young, seem to know so much."
—Adam Kirsch, The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry
"Hallelujah . . . for the poems of Joshua Mehigan, which make me a believer all over again."
—David Mason, The Hudson Review
"Traces of Fugitive Gods"
James Matthew Wilson, The Dark Horse (Winter 2007–2008)
Dustin Michael, Midwest Book Review (July 2005)
"The Optimist, by Joshua Mehigan"
D.A. Jeremy Telman, Valparaiso Poetry Review (Spring/Summer 2005)
Jeannie Kidera, Mid-American Review (Spring 2005)
"Seventh Annual Look at ForeWord’s Big Ten Picks"
Peter Skinner, ForeWord (Nov./Dec. 2005)
"Among Books: The Lines of the Poets"
Adam Kirsch, The New York Sun, 3 Nov. 2004
". . . possessed of a fine sensibility, a sense of humor, and a rare gift for converting deeply felt experience into works of art."
". . . already the work of a master coming into his unique own. Mehigan writes with a deep and alarming calmness that derives directly from his mastery, and his poems shine with luminous strangeness. The Optimist possesses the mysterious vision and power of great art."
"Something of the energy, the savagery and emotional fierceness of Robert Lowell’s early poems is to be found in this impressive book."
"W.B. Yeats, in an exhortation, wrote: ‘Irish poets, learn your trade!’ Joshua Mehigan has learned his trade. These beautifully made and deeply moving poems add up to The Optimist, a brilliant and brave first book."